Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

Use isn’t really free. And users aren’t really free.facebook-addict

In case you haven’t heard, Amazon purchased San Francisco-based Goodreads last week for  an undisclosed amount. Twitter and Facebook accounts continue to fill up with outraged comments from booklovers, who are joining best-selling writers and the Authors Guild in condemning the takeover.

But we tend to agree with Steve Almond, of Congnoscenti:

. . . .Big corporations find ways to monetize our aesthetic preferences, and our compulsive need to share these preferences on-line. If people don’t like this, they can (and should) opt out of Goodreads.

What we find a bit strange all the blame is going on Amazon. People seem clueless that Goodreads, just like Amazon, was created to make money for its owner.

Goodreads was simply Facebook for booklovers — a social media site designed with the ultimate goal of becoming so large that a huge corporation would want to buy the owner out for a huge sum.

So before people go off on Amazon, they need to at least consider the role Goodreads played in all of this. And too, they need to consider their own role in this because the users of Goodreads are really the ones to blame.

Mergers and acquisitions are all about making a company more competitive. Remember the recent launch of Bookish — the “reader recommendation site” owned by  multiple large publishing houses?  Amazon’s purchase of Goodreads was simply to compete against the major publishers’ site Bookish.

Apparently the thinking among book retailers is that the biggest company with the best social media control wins. And they’re right. If large companies can influence and control buyers through the social media they own (which users feel they must belong to), they’re in a very solid position.

But this business model only works because people are addicted to “free” social media.  Ask yourself this, “If Goodreads had asked readers to pay to use the site, would it still exist as an independent entity?” The answer is probably not, because social media users tend to believe everything should be free — to the point of violating laws.

But things aren’t free and someone has to actually foot the bill to keep servers/sites running. Most of the time this is where big corporations come in. They buy social media and then use that social media to get these users to buy their products, a part of which purchase price goes back into keeping the “free” site free.

Big corporations are happy because they make money . Social media users are happy because their social media site continues to be free. The more savvy tend to get this. They understand how it works. The less savvy tend to be outraged.

At the core of every Social Media Site – Retail Corporation merger are users. And there’s a reason they’re called “users” and not customers, patrons, clients, etc If people really wanted a site to be “free” and really wanted to stop large companies from taking over their free social media site, they need only be willing to pay their favorite site, as a subscriber.

The answer is simple.

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Published in: on April 5, 2013 at 10:09 AM  Leave a Comment  
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