Salon.com offers an overview of the dissatisfaction of "a small but growing faction of longtime, deeply involved Goodreads members" who object to new guidelines about what members can say in book reviews, with many of them blaming the Amazon purchase earlier this year. "They've staged a protest of sorts, albeit one that's happening mostly out of the public eye. Their charge is censorship and their accusation is, in the words of one rebel, that Goodreads and Amazon want 'to kill the vibrant, creative community that was once here, and replace it with a canned community of automaton book cheerleaders.' "
The tension about the content of book reviews on Goodreads goes back several years, which led the company to delete reviews from the community reviews section that were primarily about "author behavior"--rather than about their books. The conflicts often stemmed from negative reviews that authors objected to. Then, in September, the company tightened the policy, entirely removing such reviews from Goodreads, including from reviewers' pages. The company did so without first announcing the change, leading to a range of skirmishes that have played out over the last several weeks.
The key problem, as Salon put it: "While many Goodreads members tend to see the site as existing 'for readers,' and the spokesperson for the company reiterated to me its stated mission 'to help readers find good books to read,' the site also markets itself to authors as a place to promote their work. Goodreads founder and CEO Otis Chandler told an interviewer earlier this year, "We're in the business of helping authors and publishers market their books to readers. And that's where we make our money. We sell book launch packages to authors and publishers and really help accelerate, build that early buzz that a book needs to succeed when it launches and accelerate that growth through ads on the site....'
"As for disaffected Goodreads members, they're learning a hard lesson often overlooked by the boosters of digital utopianism: Sooner or later people need to get paid, and sooner or later you get what you pay for. Goodreads' staff may be small, but they can't run the site for nothing, and attempts to monetize it could not be postponed indefinitely."