I’m a very pragmatic sort, you know. I do get carried away by my emotions a lot and tend to be excitable and melodramatic but despite that all, I’m pragmatic. Therefore the fact that Goodreads reacted to the growing cries of those authors whose books were receiving bad reviews makes sense. To me anyways. The authors were getting more and more vocal because the more thin-skinned of them cannot handle negative reviews. Also, let me just put this out there, there are some very horrible books in existence. There are some people who think they can ride the popularity wave that YA fiction is enjoying today and make some money. They forget to consider that readers are discerning beings and that books will be torn apart once they go out into the world. Everything is subject to an opinion and sometimes, they are not nice opinions and sometimes these not nice opinions are not stated in a nice way.
Am I saying that there are GR users who didn’t take it too far? No, not at all. I’m not saying that. I’ve seen some people who, however they justified it to themselves, focused more on the writers than the books. Sometimes going so far as to black ball a particular group of writers because of their association with a certain writer. Did I agree with that? No. Did I say anything about that? Again, no. Because it is their right. They can decide what to do and how they want to do it.
The point is, if you cannot handle negative opinions of your work, you may as well continue writing in your diary and hiding it from the world. As an author, you have to maintain a certain distance, some objectivity from your work. Your work does not define you and if it does, you need to go out and get a more rounded life. How about understanding that the reason you get bad reviews is not because someone hates you personally but because your book is bad? Perhaps that’s asking for too much.
Now that I have said this, let’s talk about how Goodreads went wrong. As a business, they need to keep their customers happy.
Of whom the readers sufficiently outnumber the authors.
Yet they went ahead and deleted reviews and shelves WITHOUT ANY WARNING. Were author profiles removed without warning? No. Were bookshelves caroling the awesomeness of authors removed? No. Just negative reviews and shelves titled negatively.
So Goodreads decided to choose a side in this battle and they threw their lot in with the elite (as one would argue the authors are) instead of the more numerous readers. Their actions directly affected their most active, most popular reviewers who then decided that rather than being treated like crap, they’re simply going to move and take their remaining reviews with them. These people write good reviews – well thought out, well crafted ones. If you compare the average review which gushes “OMG THIS BOOK’S SO GOOD, READ IT!” to the ones these people write, there will be a marked difference.
From the perspective of a business, this does not make sense to me at all. Why would you risk alienating your most dedicated customers? Is Goodreads going to be negatively impacted? Hell yeah, their reputation has suffered. I have removed their widgets from my the blog and though I still am with them, when I find a site that fits all my needs, I will consider moving.
Is there any way they could have gotten it right? Yes. They could have sent an email warning users not in compliance of their TOS and given them some time to remove offending shelves and reviews themselves instead of arbitrarily removing what they decided was offensive.
The good thing is that the reviews still remain on the blogs. They will be posted on many other platforms. The bad thing is that Goodreads lost whatever reputation it had as a platform that had the readers’ best interests at heart. Still it’s better to know than not.