Turow on Amazon/Goodreads: This is how modern monopolies can be built

Amazon’s garden walls are about to grow much higher. In a truly devastating act of vertical integration, Amazon is buying Goodreads, its only sizable competitor for reader reviews and a site known for the depth and breadth of its users’ book recommendations. Recommendations from like-minded readers appear to be the Holy Grail of online book marketing. By combining Goodreads’ recommendation database with Amazon’s own vast databases of readers’ purchase histories, Amazon’s control of online bookselling approaches the insurmountable.

“Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads is a textbook example of how modern Internet monopolies can be built,” said Scott Turow, Authors Guild president. “The key is to eliminate or absorb competitors before they pose a serious threat. With its 16 million subscribers, Goodreads could easily have become a competing on-line bookseller, or played a role in directing buyers to a site other than Amazon. Instead, Amazon has scuttled that potential and also squelched what was fast becoming the go-to venue for on-line reviews, attracting far more attention than Amazon for those seeking independent assessment and discussion of books. As those in advertising have long known, the key to driving sales is controlling information.”

One example should make it clear how formidable this combination is. For “Animals Make Us Human” by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, Amazon has 123 customer reviews, and B&N has about 40 (they report 150, but that figure includes ratings as well as reviews). Goodreads swamps these figures, with 469 reviews and 2,266 ratings for the book.

As an independent platform, Goodreads, with its 16 million members, posed a serious competitive threat to Amazon. No more.

Here’s Bloomberg’s story on this.

Comments: more
  • Christne de Lailhacar

    The Holy Grail is a needle in the haystack.
    Scott Turow deserves our thanks for regularly unmasking corporate procedures which affect all authors. So Amazon now controls users’ book recommendations which are the “Holy Grail of online book marketing.” But n my quest for the Holy Grail, I am drowned in the swamp of information glut. Whether Goodreads’ thousands of reviews and ratings of Amazon’s zillion, who can check them all? The reader looking for a book to his taste, the author for a vehicle of promotion? It is a problem of specific access, not access in general..
    The future author as entrepreneur: PR talents of self-promotion (pushiness) and business acumen are, if not outright incompatible with artistic creativity, rarely found in the same person. “What to do?” (These were Lenin’s words in a moment of doubt about the future of communism;. And he added: “we are doing one step forward and two steps back”). Tshto delat’?

  • http://www.facebook.com/leigh.verrillrhys Leigh Verrill-Rhys

    The Big Six had a monopoly until Amazon and Smashwords and Lulu (countless others as well) shook the publishing world by the scruff of the neck. Any company worth its weight is working toward world domination. This will shake out but in the meantime, authors have never had such great opportunities. Amazon (after buying Avalon) is my publisher but I also have the freedom to indie-publish and sell my books on every online bookseller I can find, either independently or through a distributor. Authors having the best of both is long overdue.

    Amazon does limit authors from reviewing books. Goodreads doesn’t/didn’t. That may change. And all change is excruciating for those who are too comfortable with the status quo.

  • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

    Compare any publisher’s royalty statement to an Amazon “report” of unit sales. End of discussion. Author’s Guild could take that notion and do something for their membership now that there be only 3 congloms in NYC to address the issue of lousy, unreadable royalty statements and get those uniform and informative, a thing AG has been unable to do forever. Might then do something about the sneaky workding of contracts after that.

    • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

      Well that does presume that AG gives a damn.

  • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

    How many moves has Amazon made that have not been golden for them and for authors? How often have any of you who have worked a contract with the now Big THREE and come out on top in the end? How many of you came out on bottom? With Amazon, at least for this INDIE now AUTHOR who does know a little of the business, as little as they will allow (NEVER call a distributor, for instance, etc), I have never felt like a stable hand or digging my own grave.

  • Robert Alexander

    Funny, I thought they already owned it, since the last time I checked, the only site Goodreads pointed to was Amazon. Plus ça change . . .

    • http://www.facebook.com/danhdewitt Dan DeWitt

      The level of laziness in this comment is mind-numbing. All you had to do was go to Goodreads, pick a book at random, and see the links. I chose five random books, and the only link mentioned by name is B&N; Amazon is available in a dropdown, as are Kobo, Apple, Sony, and a bunch of others.

      What’s French for “didn’t do the research before looking stupid?”

  • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

    I am likely by now personae non grata here so I will let Rebecca speak and she is not one of my alias but a real flesh and blood person with great commonsense advice by end of her post:
    Heard from Rebecca Dahlke this BIG NEWS about Amazon acquiring GoodReads!
    Friday, March 29, 2013 12:17 PM
    From: “rpd2mysteries” rebeccadahlke@gmail.com The following is from DBW on line news:

    Amazon, the world’s largest bookseller has acquired the world’s largest
    book-focused social network, Goodreads.

    Why? Well, publishing consultant and DBW partner Mike Shatzkin said of
    Goodreads, “They were on the verge of opening a bookstore – they were hiring
    people, talking to people…so Amazon takes it [Goodreads] off the table. It’s a
    really smart acquisition by Amazon and it goes to show that the competition
    missed a chance.”

    Amazon already owns Shelfari, another book-focused social network, and has a
    stake in LibraryThing, another one. So what will it do with Goodreads now that
    it owns it, too? By comparison to Goodreads, the other two networks are

    Here are some logical guesses:

    1. Use the site’s data to augment and improve its own book recommendations.
    2. Remove buy buttons for other retailers’ books.
    3. Supplement its own reviews with Goodreads reviews.
    4. Add Goodreads to its suite of marketing solutions for publishers.
    5. Nothing. The company is growing quickly (nearly tripled in users since the
    end of 2011).

    **Note: Remember when GoodReads took Amazon off their list of accepted sources for author books? Personally, I can’t wait for this change to happen!

  • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

    My dog Pongo and I are selling an avg of 1000 books a month; when I was working with NYC publishers both in paper and hardcover, these big machines like Penguin could not touch those numbers because they did not have Pongo. PR and Marketing people totally ignored midlist authors, but Pongo and I never labeled ourselves as midlist because we believed our writing was top of the line. On Amazon, I cannot count the # of times Amazon has highlighted my work, agreeing with its author.

  • trkravtin

    Many are wondering why, if given the option to vote for sustained independence by becoming a “member”, would subscribers have been willing to pony up a nominal fee? For $10 @ we could have beat Amazon’s reported $140 buyout offer. I exported my books and deleted my account without a second thought. I didn’t threaten, I just acted.

    • http://twitter.com/Dan_DeWitt Dan DeWitt

      You have no idea what changes may take place and whether or not they will actually be for the better, but it’s always better to act rashly. That’ll show ‘em.

      • trkravtin

        I have no interest in contributing to my own demise. Everyone else can come to their own determination as to what they choose to do. I am not conflicted about the choice, nor do I need to stick around and wait to see what will happen. I am invested in my own success selling to independent bookstores and will not participate in Amazon’s destruction of publishing and bookselling. If you’ll note, Dan, it is the Author’s Guild here that has made this statement, and they have a stake in their books being available at other venues rather than just online through one source. I believe in choice, not the ruination of the industry. I know enough of what effect Amazon has had in multiple areas of publishing and of their bullying tactics to have no doubt whatsoever about my decision.

        • http://www.facebook.com/danhdewitt Dan DeWitt

          I don’t even know how to respond to all this, so have fun with that.

          • trkravtin

            As I suspected.

          • http://twitter.com/Dan_DeWitt Dan DeWitt

            No, there are many rational responses, but all you’ll hear is, “Amazon is Satan.”

        • Passive Guy

          So your publisher/employer has pulled all its books from Amazon so as not to contribute to your and your employer’s demise?

          • trkravtin

            I am not an author, Passive Guy, I work for authors, publishers and booksellers who are all invested in authors success.

          • http://twitter.com/Dan_DeWitt Dan DeWitt

            Nothing says, “invested in success (meaning sales)” quite like cutting out the runaway #1 book retailer in the world.

          • trkravtin

            Yes, and I’ll like to know how that retailer is working out for you in terms of sales?

          • http://twitter.com/Dan_DeWitt Dan DeWitt

            About 3-4x per month as everywhere else combined. That’s typical for the vast majority of self-published authors, although there are exceptions. Are you really going to argue that somehow Amazon isn’t the one place every author should be available? Because if you are, we can just jump ahead to my uncontrolled laughter.

          • trkravtin

            No, I never said that. You gave yourself away, however, when you said you’re a self-published author. End of discussion.

          • http://twitter.com/Dan_DeWitt Dan DeWitt

            I didn’t “give myself away,” but you sure did. Now back to your “no Amazon” policy.

          • Tony Hursh

            “The Copernican System is EVIL!!!!!!!”
            “Actually, I’ve used it and it does a much better job of predicting the motion of the planets.”
            “You’ve outed yourself as a Copernican! End of discussion!”

          • Jack Heinlein

            “End of Discussion” because he said he is a self-published writer? my what an open mind you have.

          • trkravtin

            No. End of discussion because self-published writers understand one narrow aspect of the publishing industry and have little experience to allow themselves to be open-minded to anything else except the cult of Amazon. Please, you should all stop embarrassing yourselves with this pointless, argumentative discussion. I marvel at the relentless, bullying that goes on in these comments on the website of an organization that apparently does not represent any of you. If you ever have the opportunity to be published other than as an ebook on Amazon, perhaps you’ll gain an insight that you otherwise don’t have now.

          • http://twitter.com/Dan_DeWitt Dan DeWitt

            The lack of awareness in this comment is fantastic. On this thread, you have many self-publishers. Several used to be Guild members until they left in apparent disgust. Others, like me, chose self-pub from the get go. No, I didn’t fail to get traditionally published; I decided from the beginning that self-pub is the far better option.

            And how do I know that? Because I’ve been following the trad-pub industry for years. I don’t need validation from a Guild that doesn’t actually work for the people it represents. I just want to write, get in front of readers, and get paid.

            None of us here worship Amazon, but we will call bullshit when we see it. Contrast that with someone like you who is so blindly anti-Amazon that you would overreact to them buying a review site. Your bias can’t help but hurt your clients, and that means you’re not doing your job. Care to name a few novelists you represent and what you do to make them succeed?

            But if you really want to turn this into trad-pub vs. self-pub, just say the word, because you’ll get embarrassed far worse than you already have.

          • Tony Hursh

            “Relentless bullying”? Mmm… okay.

            Note that several people in this thread have a) been “professionally” published (including at least one NYT Bestseller) and b) are former members of the Authors Guild.

            “Reading before ranting” is a good general working rule.

          • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

            Everyone was bludgeoning Amazon the upstart and as soon as it beats out Wal-Mart, the same people are crying foul. As to sales, I have on occasion sold over 5,000 units in a single month on Amazon, and lately average is 1,000 a month the rest of the year. I for once in my writing life have a real income, a steady, monthly income. Before all my income paid off middle-men, distributors, booksellers, and I was like all authors at the bottom of your totem pole. For Writers Amazon is the godsend we all laid in bed at night and prayed for, the Knight in Shining armor. You guys in the trade of selling books, my friend, you all colluded to cook your own damn goose.
            The golden egg none of you took into the equation was my and all authors who filled your stores with books — our paychecks.

          • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

            The night was dark,

            the sky was blue

            when down the alley

            a shitload of publisher crap flew;

            a scream was heard

            and an author was killed by a flying turd.

            He couldn’t swim,

            he couldn’t float

            as all that publisher crap

            went down his throat.

            Soon the bagpipes blew

            and came the funeral too,

            and the poor schlep was fittingly entered

            alongside out-0f-prints
            and one fevered mind…

            and that fevered mind.

          • Tony Hursh

            You said you deleted “your” books. Did you check with the authors before doing this?

          • trkravtin

            I deleted my book reviews on Goodreads.

          • Tony Hursh

            Thanks for the clarification.

          • Passive Guy

            So your authors and publishers all sell on Amazon.

            It must not be so bad after all.

  • Carol O’Connell

    To answer the question about the Antitrust Division’s position on any damn thing: Historically, traditionally, sadly, it is a clown car. My own question: When Amazon has fully regained its monopoly status to become the National Store, not only for e-books but books in the hand as well . . . could the Department of Justice possibly be embarrassed into busting the monopoly, or will the DOJ’s mad girlish crush on Amazon prevail? At this beginning of what’s shaping up to be a long dark winter, this is an issue of free speech; if the publishers cannot sell future books in the National Store (or secure a review by the National Book Critic), those books will not be published. If the National Store doesn’t care for disparate voices in America, you may never hear them again because . . . the DOJ is a clown car.

    • http://twitter.com/Dan_DeWitt Dan DeWitt

      Ummmm … wow. This just took a weird turn.

      I like how the DOJ has a “crush” on Amazon because they dared to prosecute a clear case of collusion and price-fixing. The amount of Author’s Guild members (and leaders) who are fine with blatantly illegal behavior, so long as they perceive a benefit to them, is astounding.

    • Passive Guy

      As Dan said, there is only one illegal monopoly in the book business and it’s the big publishers.

    • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

      Say what you will, CC but AMAZON is the one place where we can actually see, hear from, and read more various voices in more formats and styles than any other publisher…or all 3 of the Congloms in NYC now….Only THREE now!!! All my career I have seen good houses gobbled up and gone. Ironically, the National Store as you call Amazon welcomes all comers, all manner of writers, all categories of books and some books without a category.
      DOJ seems to have far more love, too, for BIG traditonal companies and banks and Fannie Mae, and Wall St. megagiants.

  • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

    Face it, CEO of Amazon, Bezos is a genius who has made history time and again; he has not only reKINDLED an interest in reading thanks to his ingenious devices but a resurgence in small and independent publishing, and for the first time in history as traditional publishing has become a conglomerate of 4 or 5 companies in control and whinning about Amazon’s getting too big, AUTHORS win. First time authors get paid on a timely basis with an accounting of sales that is READABLE and understandable. First time authors are paid what they are worth – 70 percent on many of my 54 items on sale on Amazon, the last TEN of which have been full-length novels written expressly and exclusively for Kindle so that they might be published in a timely fashion once edited rather than awaiting a ridiculously long year and a half scheduling slot. In an age where it is OK to have banks too big to fail and bailouts of whole industries, Amazon has made history time and again, and guess what. They have done it with the best customer satisfaction record in the industry be it books or bras and panty hose.
    The mergers it has made each step of the way has proven people like Scott Turow who are mouthing or being mouth-pieces for their deep-pocket publishers (traditonal publishers have had a beef with Amazon for as long as I can recall but at one time laughed their collective asses off at Amazon). Many a majorly well paid bestselling author has NO IDEA what is really happening out here in the real world of ebook publishing. I say with the exception of a few like Stephen King that is true.
    I am for first time in a 30 year career as an author getting paid on a timely basis and that is history making as is getting a ‘royalty’ report that is readable. In this bar fight, I stand with Bezos and Company, thank you.
    Robert W. Walker (Rob)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Van-Stry/100002357919743 John Van Stry

      Robert is right. I’ve seen more than one bestselling author get the shaft from traditional publishers who pay their authors next to nothing and hide the actual sales figures. Meanwhile a small time author like myself makes MORE money than someone who has multiple best sellers in their 5th printing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/debra.holland.731 Debra Holland

    This would have been a far more informative article if the author had stuck to the facts instead of going off into fantasyland like mourning the demise of Goodreads as a future bookseller.

    Personally, I hope Amazon makes Goodreads more user friendly. I think it’s a cumbersome and frustrating site. I also think it’s just as easy to post a false review on Goodreads as on Amazon. I think with Amazon’s backing, Goodreads has the potential to become more informative and user-friendly for both authors and readers. For example, I bet Amazon will be able to make it so authors can do free give-aways of their ebooks. Now Goodreads only allows print books as free giveaways.

    I also think it’s useless to negatively speculate what’s going to happen with Amazon in the future. For all you know, the future could be positive. Or maybe not. But running around calling “the sky is falling” isn’t helpful to anyone, and in fact is fear mongering about an uncertain future. In the meantime, lots of authors, myself included, are making a LOT of money from Amazon.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ellenhopkinsauthor Ellen Hopkins

      Or, maybe he has a point.

      • Tina Back

        Your books are still up on Amazon, Ms. Hopkins. If you truly think it is of vital importance that Amazon be reigned in, start by not selling your books through them. Bless a competitor with your output. Be an example to us all. I expect the very same action from Mr. Turow since, after all, actions do speak louder than words even among authors.

    • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

      Thank you! an intelligent, thoughtful response at last.

    • http://claudenougat.blogspot.com/ Claude Nougat

      Totally agree with you, this is fear mongering.The future could be very positive for authors, provided Amazon leaves Goodreads exactly the way it is, i.e. independent. On the technical aspects, some Amazon backing would be welcome. Goodreads could certainly use a little electronic sprucing up, it’s system is really antiquated and slow!

  • McCormick

    second to last graf here makes post a slam dunk. fine job on this, eds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elisabeth.hyde Elisabeth Hyde

    What’s the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division think of this?

    • http://www.facebook.com/danhdewitt Dan DeWitt

      They’re probably thinking that no one would be foolish enough to equate the acquisition of a book review site with six companies illegally colluding to raise the prices of ebooks.

      • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

        Dan – right on. The level of mendacity and hypocrisy rivals that of FUX NEWS

        • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

          Oops…typo….meant FIX NEWS. When it comes right down to it agents were always part of the system too and like the 18th Century fact that all Indian agents were secessionist and Southern to a man, thus brainwashing American Indian tribes into standing with the South during the Civil War… well many an author both succesful and not have tasted of the Cool Aid.

  • Greg M

    Actually, Amazon is not the only game in town, we just published and had the printer do direct fulfillment for us, saving the fund it takes to ship to Amazon. Though Amazon is big, we’re finding for a few cents a day, we can advertise on Facebook and reach millions of people and not have to pay Amazon the 17-20% + in mark up on the book

  • http://www.marionstein.net Marioninnyc

    I could see how this move could actually backfire on sales of some books. Right now more and more readers are getting disgusted by the perception that people are gaming Amazon’s review system. For some reason, Goodreads is looked at as being more independent, even though any system can be rigged and rigging reviews is probably less widespread than some people believe. With Amazon “in charge” of both systems, one wonders if people will even bother with Goodreads or if it will seem redundant, as Amazon’s clone-version, Shelfari did.

  • Lorrie

    This is interesting, but I’m not sure what Turow’s point is. Of course Amazon is out of control; of course GR could have refused the offer; of course GR wasn’t going to turn down the dough. Nothing new here. But what would the AG or Turow like us to do about it? What COULD be done about it? Seems to me the seeds of this deal and others very like it were sown quite a long time ago, and the opportunity for regulating the Amazons of the Internet is long gone. Sad, sad, sad, for writers.

    • Donna Tabor

      It’s not just sad for writers. It’s also sad for readers, who will have a far slimmer chance of getting honest reviews.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=694283960 Christine DeMaio-Rice

        Donna – Goodreads reviews are notoriously hardcore, honest and thorough. I have no idea where you’re getting your information.

        • http://www.rowenachery.com rowenacherry

          Christine, you think that reviews and ratings by people who have not read a book are “honest and thorough”?

  • The Authors Guild

    Robin H: I don’t know about the shenanigans, but I’d guess you’re right that the costs of building a review site are pretty low. The costs of entry for this sort of thing, I would think, are mostly about achieving critical mass, building a large network of reader-reviewers. Amazon is well placed to do that by itself, organically, without acquiring an independent platform that’s managed to gain traction. -Paul Aiken

  • Robin H

    But the entry costs for an on-line review site have to be pretty low. I can’t imagine that no one will rise up to take Goodreads place. As an aside, I’m a member of goodreads and I have found many of the book ratings to be skewed higher than they should be. If you read the reviews, it seems that those who dislike certain books will leave a long, detailed review. On the other end of the reviews, there are way more high ratings without any written reviews. It seems to me there may be some shenanigans going on.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ellenhopkinsauthor Ellen Hopkins

      Interesting. Have you read Amazon reviews? Don’t find those skewed?

      • Passive Guy

        Just like the New York Times reviews.

        • http://www.facebook.com/danhdewitt Dan DeWitt

          Come on, PG, that’s like saying that spots on the Times Bestseller list are bought. Inconceivable!

      • Robin H

        I don’t use Amazon for the reviews, so I can’t say.

  • The Authors Guild

    Dirk57: You’re right, it takes two to tango. But it’s hard (and exceedingly rare) for a company such as Goodreads, which is backed by significant venture capital, to turn down a substantial buyout offer. There are reports that Amazon paid $140 million or so for GR.

    Bob Mayer: The point is that in the long run it’s healthier for everyone — readers and authors — if Amazon faces substantial competition online. Markets work best when every participant has to win customers on the merits of their products and services, not on the strength of their dominance. Genuine competition keeps everyone on their toes.

    -Paul Aiken, Executive Director

    • http://www.facebook.com/danhdewitt Dan DeWitt

      Are you kidding? Amazon has achieved its market position and won customers on the merits of its products and services. If you favor online competition (which I do), then maybe someone else should do a better job of competing.

      But this is just more of the Turow-led AG stance of being anti-everything Amazon does and blindly supporting anything that goes against Amazon (including price-fixing cabals and acquisitions of scam publishers). No amount of “Amazon is evil!” rhetoric will change the fact that this guild’s integrity has been rendered non-existent by its leadership.

    • Passive Guy

      As has been widely reported on several finance and tech blogs, Amazon sources are saying it was a low eight-figure deal.

      It’s healthier for everyone if big bookstore chains like Barnes & Noble, the Dark Tower of only a few years ago, have competition. Amazon is that competition, It started as a tiny company and it’s winning the competitive battle.

      Anyone who wants to compete with Amazon can start at the same place Amazon did and build their business with brains.

      Additionally, as an attorney who knows something about antitrust, Scott must have been asleep in class the day the professor talked about monopolies. The publishing business throws that word around as a default epithet in lieu of admitting they’ve made one losing decision after another, including illegal price-fixing, and Amazon hasn’t.

    • Bob Mayer

      Doesn’t Mr. Turow ever deign to comment on his own organization’s blog? I’ve yet to see it.

      Organizations, like the Big 6, now the Big 5, by the way, got there by crushing and buying out their competition over the years. They had plenty of opportunity to challenge Amazon before Amazon even existed. But as late as 2010 publishers, editors and agents were laughing at eBooks. But they were also, and still are, selling books through Amazon. So Amazon is the enemy, but as long as they make us money, we’ll work with them? So they complain about the evil empire, while commanding starships in the empires fleet?

      What did the Authors Guild do to help that competition? How did the Authors Guild challenge the pathetic eBook royalty rates most authors get from traditional publishers?

      And that wasn’t Mr. Turow’s point. He’s ranted about Amazon quite a bit, using the Author’s Guild as his bully pulpit, but he never responds and, more importantly, he doesn’t put his money where his mouth is by pulling his buy buttons on Amazon. He can then support the competition with his own livelihood.

      That would be a statement everyone would listen to. The Authors Guild would be a real force to be reckoned with if every member did that.

      I used to be a member, but as noted below, the leadership was too focused on the status quo of keeping the elite 5% of authors in business.

      • http://twitter.com/Dan_DeWitt Dan DeWitt

        I’m sure he’s too busy formulating responses to protect authors from things like scam presses, the potential monopoly of the RH/Penguin merger, and RH’s unconscienable contracts under their Hydra imprint.

        Wait, I got confused. I was thinking of everyone BUT Turow and the Guild. Carry on.

      • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

        like many a fellow with a big head, Scott T. appears to be a hit-and-run blogger due most likely to the attitude no one could possibly disagree since he KNOWS it all. I beg to differ since I have heard from Mark Twain the following: Kipling knows all there is to know and I (Twain) know the rest. This in response to our missing leader. Take me to your leader.
        rob walker

  • Bob Mayer

    Scott Turow whines about anything that doesn’t support the current state of publishing which has treated him quite well. As I’ve said before, he needs to pull all his titles from Amazon since he feels it is so bad for publishing. Then he can speak with his actions backing up his words. But to continue to sell on Amazon while complaining about Amazon greatly reduces his credibility.

    • McCormick

      What makes Amazon so great for publishing, Bob? Technology could help publishers, bookstores and libraries. Amazon destroys them. And it exploits its affiliates. And now it thinks it can take on Walmart. Do you know how many Americans are employed by Walmart, Bob? Amazon issues loans, too. The company pays hardly any money to Uncle Sam. It employs very few Americans.

      Tell me something, Bob. Why is Amazon good for America? What makes it unique? I bet that Google and the U.S. Patent Office would say “not much.”

      • Tony Hursh

        “What makes Amazon so great for publishing, Bob?”

        You can upload your book and have it on the market worldwide within 12 hours, and you get to keep 70% of the money?

        That’s why it’s awesome for publishing. You’re actually asking why it’s good for publishERS, which is a completely different question.

        As Clay Shirky recently put it, publishing isn’t a job any more. It’s a button.

        • http://www.facebook.com/danhdewitt Dan DeWitt

          Flawless victory.

          • http://RedTash.com Red Tash

            My children have unimaginable instant access to books thanks to Amazon. Even when we browse the public library’s catalog, you know where the ebooks are lent from? Amazon’s library lending program. My Kindle has turned my kids into voracious readers.

            It has also given their novelist mom a steady income doing work she loves from HOME, where she somehow manages to be both a mom of a four and a frequent flyer up her genre’s best-seller list.

            I know your question was meant with irony, Dan, but I thought I’d answer without because my scenario is so common, and so commonly overlooked.

          • http://www.facebook.com/danhdewitt Dan DeWitt

            Way to step on my zinger with your heartfelt response, Red. Sheesh, :-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/ellenhopkinsauthor Ellen Hopkins

      You sound like another scorned writer, Bob. Until you actually parallel Scott’s stature, you might want to shut your mouth and listen.

      • Bob Mayer

        Again, if you feel Amazon is so evil then every member of the Authors Guild should pull their books. I am not a scorned writer, Ms. Hopkins. I’ve been making my living as a novelist since 1991 which a moment of google research would have informed you. As an indie author now, I do quite well. Much better than when trying to work with the Big 6 that the Authors Guild constantly supports.

        I was a member of the Authors Guild until Bill Butterworth, aka WEB Griffin, enlightened me as to what the Guild really “does” for authors. I think he’s sold a few books too.

        Is it not hypocritical for Mr. Turow to constantly bash Amazon yet still make money of it? Where is the integrity?

        One has to have Mr. Turow’s success in order to speak? That’s laughable. He had great success out of the gate with a first book. He has little idea what 95% of writers go through. There are a handful of writers out there like him. To pretend to speak for most of us, is also arrogant.

        Again. Very simple. Put your money where your mouth is, Mr. Turow. And you too, Ms. Hopkins since your books are there too. I’m sure you will have them off of Amazon ASAP as part of your protest. And telling someone to “shut up” is rude and unprofessional.

        • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

          I was once a member of the Authors Guild but as it NEVER did a thing for me, and it was full of whinning bestselling authors whose biggest concern on panels was how the Hollywood guys got thier stories all messed up, and the leadership always supported the nonsense of the publishers, getting NOWHERE on the smallest of author concerns like a readable royalty report for God’s sake….I QUIT em. And apparently, they have remained atrophied these many twenty five years or so later.

          • Bob Mayer

            That was essentially what WEB Griffin said to me back in the 90s. He went so far as to say that being a member of the Guild, was to be a member of the enemy. I wouldn’t go that far, but I have yet to see the Guild take a stand against publishers or in favor of midlist authors. I’m sure they have done good things for authors. But I’m really getting tired of the whining about Amazon. It didn’t exist in 1994, but the Authors Guild did and the Big 6 did. How much have those organizations changed in those years to adapt to the future? As the music business went under the digital wave, how did the Authors Guild prepare its members for that?

            Here’s a frank truth– never in 20 years and 42 titles did a single person in traditional publishing say to me the first thing an Amazon rep did: How can we help you sell more books?

            Again, I issue a flat out challenge for Mr. Turow and Ms. Hopkins and all the rest who view Amazon as the evil empire and publicly declare it, to put their books behind their position. Pull your buy buttons. Then your voice will have some weight.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=694283960 Christine DeMaio-Rice

            Bob – they can’t pull their books. They are traditionally published. They do not have the power to do so.

            Or, they can hide behind their publishers and thus, take no action.

        • Tony Hursh

          That would be the sound of Ms Hopkins shutting her mouth that we hear.

        • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

          hey Bob – There is nothing more terrifying or horrifying than a WRITER Scorned…. unless it is a Woman Writer Scorned….hehehe!

          • http://www.facebook.com/donna.whiteglaser Donna White Glaser

            Rob, I was with you right up ’til the Woman Writer Scorned bit. That was unworthy of you.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=694283960 Christine DeMaio-Rice

        Only the successful can speak?

        One, that you don’t know who Bob Mayer is, and two….just….wow.

      • http://www.facebook.com/danhdewitt Dan DeWitt

        The reason I didn’t respond on Bob’s behalf, even though I wanted to?

        Because I was anticipating his.

      • http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com Robert W. Walker

        I guess all of us who have written and sold for NYC publishers for the past several decades need to just shut up as MS Hopkins suggest, Bob, and for us to go away; apparently we have no say in this fight despite it all hinges on us. Ironies all around. Yes I would like to see a Scott Turow or any author given the CROWN out the gate as he had go one year as a typical writer and stay the course. We all know that any one of us might just as well have been crowned by a major publisher when our agents explain that MegaPublisher is weighing up whether to put big bucks behind you, Rob, or this other author named so-and-so, and then the call that they went and crowned so-and-so.
        Many a bestseller has been made not by the author’s talent as we all know but when the CEO walks into the boardroom and says his wife likes this book, so in three years, I want this author at the top of the charts. But like any pyramid that leaves 99 percent of us on our own. AMAZON has totally changed that dynamic.
        Bob has a good point too. If those who are demonizing the rest of us and Amazon in the bargain are so filled with indignation then why in the devil are they still selling their wares on Amazon? Woot-woot!
        Frankly, my dog Pongo sold more books for me than did any NYC publisher despite having bought 40 of my manuscripts. The old model has always sucked frogs ass and still does.
        Rob – King of Series Novels
        55 items on Kindle
        Moderator largest Kindle Community Forum in existence

  • Dirk57

    Wait—how is Amazon the sole bad guy here? Goodreads could just have said “no.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/ellenhopkinsauthor Ellen Hopkins

      It’s called $$$. Oh, and now Amazon does all the work.

      • http://twitter.com/danastabenow Dana Stabenow

        The Goodreads people are allowed to build a bigger, better book review site and then sell it at a profit. And as far as competition goes, I repeat what I said above: Have you seen all the book review sites out there? Okay, they aren’t Goodreads, but what are the chances some of them will step up to fill those shoes? Maybe not as large or as well-curated, but the intertubz abhor a vacuum.

  • janyce stefan-cole


  • Charlotte Vale-Allen

    Scott Turow’s thinking mirrors my own exactly since the moment I read of Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads. Amazon is well on its way to becoming the only game in town, making ever smaller the arena in which people are able to voice their opinions on the books they read. It’s a nightmare.

    • http://twitter.com/danastabenow Dana Stabenow

      Have you seen all the book blogs out there?

    • http://www.facebook.com/margaret.koch.9 Margaret Koch

      Anyone can start a blog and review books. If the reviews are well done, the blog attracts a following. We have entered a period of rapid change in publishing. Amazon will have its time as a big player, but there will be others, if they’re good. This is just the beginning, and it’s exciting. We shouldn’t be afraid.