Why I dumped my Goodreads Account: Amazon Crosses My Line in the Sand

@DigitalBookWorld put out a request for information from people who shut down or deleted their Goodreads accounts a upon hearing of Amazon’s purchase of the independent social community for readers.

For more information about Amazon’s latest acquisition and other opinions, please see the Expert Publishing Blog over at Digital Book World

BTW – it should go without saying that the following comments do not represent the opinions or thoughts of my employer. The following comments are solely my own…

So, here it is. My unexpurgated rationale behind dumping Goodreads as fast as I possibly could:

I’m probably one of the biggest Amazon whores ever. I buy everything on Amazon. Dog food, dog medicine, cat food, underwear, vitamins, clothing, electronics, tablets, clothing for tablets, accessories for tablets, office supplies, and books. Lots and lots of books. The sound of the Fedex or UPS truck pulling into my drive makes me almost as excited as it used to make my Border Collie (who kept hoping I would let him herd just one truck just one time back in his salad days).

But even I have limits. Even I have a sense of enough is enough. And even I, who am normally a fairly private person in real life, have personal privacy boundaries when it comes to Amazon and what I read. You see, I don’t buy EVERYTHING I READ from Amazon. And I do not intend to buy EVERYTHING I READ from Amazon. Ever. So when the news came out that Amazon bought Goodreads, I immediately thought “that’s it. They’ve crossed my personal privacy line in the sand. The Goodreads account must go.” One URL and about 3 clicks later, I was told that I had successfully deleted my account. I did not make a back up. I did not download a list of the books I had added to my account. Hell, I don’t even know how many of the books I listed I actually still have. I’m sure more than a few of them are still around, and the rest have either gone the way of the library donation bin, or paperbackswap.com, or wherever.

I was not a huge Goodreads participant. Quite frankly, I never really had the time, and I got over participating in internet-based book clubs a long time ago, when authors set up their own communities through discussion forum boards and yahoo email lists. More often then not, those discussions devolved away from talking about books within a number of months, or I’d simply lose interest. You see, for me, reading is something I do in my head. I may express things I learn when I read by writing about what I read, but that does not change the fact that reading is still something I do in my head. And I hold a lot more in my head than I actually choose to discuss in public, and that’s my prerogative. Amazon can have my credit card number, my vitamin preferences, and what the hell… my bra size. They cannot, and are not entitled to know the title of every book in my collection, when I bought the book, where I bought the book, or what I thought of the book. They are also not entitled to track statistics about my book buying habits over time, across the years, and through the genres for any books I choose to not buy directly from Amazon.

I realize I am one of Facebook’s products. I realize I am one of Google’s products. I’m not entirely too concerned about either of those companies because I tend to not do anything other than communicate with people through those interfaces. I don’t actually buy anything specifically from Facebook or Google (I don’t use Google checkout, for instance, but I do use the free Gmail service). I consciously ignore the advertising bits on both Facebook and Google for the most part. In fact, I have reported completely innocuous advertisements to Facebook as offensive. Because they offend my right to not have advertising shoved in my face, in general, not because the content hurts my “delicate” sensibilities.

So yeah. I dumped Goodreads like a hot potato because Amazon bought the company, and just because I could. I’m still free to assert my sense of personal privacy. Amazon crossed my line.

Do I think Amazon cares that I, as an individual, dumped my Goodreads account? Not particularly. My personal consequence to Amazon is probably the equivalent of a grain of sand (albeit a grain of sand who has a charge card on file with my account). I don’t think the company will cry over the loss of their ability to know the who, what, where, when, why, and how of my every future book buying decision. But I will know that I made a decision. That I decided that there is a line when it comes to personal privacy. And that I’ve not totally sold out the personal privacy of what’s in my head for the convenience of belonging to a book club that I barely participated in.


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  • Dear Jean,
    Loved the article. I agree that this has crossed some boundary, it’s kinda like insider trading. As an author, an independent author, it’s even more concerning because the power behind the Amazon algorithms will now have even more data to crunch, and more information to plot in their continued pursuit to be the last publisher standing. I don’t think it’s a winning situation for the members of Goodreads or for those who love written word.

  • Peter Foppes says:

    Bravo. It may not seem like a big deal to some people, but that fact that you could still do it of your own volition IS a big deal.

    Remember the dustup about changes in the Facebook privacy settings?

  • Facebook. Sigh. Yeah. I keep my Facebook settings locked down within an inch of their life, too. But I expect my privacy to be invaded there, and quite frankly, the conversations aren’t as personal to me as my book reading is. Thanks for speaking out on the subject though! I think one of the ways to make sure that people don’t forget out civil liberties and personal privacy rights is to exercise them. Regularly. 🙂

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