Sunday Salon: Lots of Book News

sundaysalonIt’s been a while since I’ve done a Sunday post, but there’s been a lot going on, so I wanted to take a little time to share and get your thoughts.

  • The big news this week was that Goodreads was bought by Amazon. I’m not much of a fan of Amazon, and I dislike seeing one company taking over so much of the book world. However, I’m not so anti-Amazon that I won’t deal with anything they touch. It’s been years since I bought a book through Amazon, although once in a while I’ll use the site to purchase other items. And I’ve bought from Book Depository, which Amazon owns, and I use LibraryThing, which Amazon has a minority stake in (The precise stake is not public, but it’s less than the widely reported 40%, per LT’s owner.) A lot of people are deleting their Goodreads accounts in response, but I haven’t decided what I’m going to do. I use Goodreads primarily for keeping track of book I’d like to read but don’t yet own, but I also enjoy the social aspects of the site. I’m considering keeping a TBR list at Worldcat (see Stefanie’s post on how to do that) or just keeping a spreadsheet. But I would miss the social aspects of Goodreads. There’s also a small part of me that likes the idea of abandoning lists altogether and just reading what pops into my head. So we’ll see. Amanda’s post at Book Riot sums up my feelings at the moment.
  • Another big change is the coming loss of Google Reader. I’ve played around with other feed readers over the years, but none that worked as well for me as Google Reader. At the moment, I’m using Bloglovin for my blog reading. What I love about it is that it takes me right to the page of the blog I’m reading, which makes me more likely to comment. (Google Reader has a “next” bookmarklet that does something similar.) However, there are times when I want to quickly skim/read a bunch of posts at once, and Bloglovin isn’t so great for that. For that, I think The Old Reader may be the best option, but I haven’t used it enough to be sure.
  • The loss of Google Reader came with a lot of talk about how RSS is dead and how people are using social media to keep up with their favorite sites. I like Twitter a lot and tolerate Facebook, but neither is great for making sure I see everything on my favorite blogs. But I do wonder whether blogs that rely on RSS for sharing their posts will end up losing readers when Google Reader dies and people don’t bother getting a new RSS readers. Here at Shelf Love, Jenny and I provide the option to subscribe by e-mail. (See the sidebar on the right, just below the search bar.) And I share links to all our posts on Twitter. I share my own posts on my personal Facebook page, at the request of some of my friends and family. We’ve talked about creating a Facebook page if people want to follow us that way, but I’m concerned about having something else to administer, and I don’t want our conversation to get fragmented. But if people want it, we’ll consider it. Let us know whether that interests you (or not) with this quick poll:

  • This week, Amy announced that she will no longer be coordinating the annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week. I’ve enjoyed the celebration each year, but it’s a massive undertaking, and I fully understand Amy’s need to let it go. I think, though, that we can all keep the spirit of it alive by making a point to link to each other and share the stuff we like from other blogs.
  • Ana recently posted about a MOOC (massive open online course) on gender in comic books that starts this week, and I decided to enroll. It looks really great, and I’m interested in the MOOC model as a means of lifetime learning. (But I do want to note that I do not think MOOCs can possibly replace in-person or even limited-enrollment online classes.)
  • The next Dewey’s Read-a-Thon is scheduled for April 27. That’s the end of my vacation week, during which I intend to do lots of reading, so I may be all booked out—or it might be the perfect way to cap off a week off work.
  • Jenn at The Picky Girl wrote a great post this week called “A Reader’s Responsibility” in response to an author complaint about readers getting her books from the library instead of buying them. I think it’s important for us to think about the impact of our buying decisions, whether it comes to where we get our books, buying new or used, borrowing from the library, and the diversity of our reading choices. But there’s no one right answer to any of these questions, and every reader will decide differently.
  • Over at So Many Books, Stefanie has started an interesting discussion of electronic literature and whether it should be considered a separate genre and the implications of creating literature that’s meant to be experienced electronically.

Review Links

These book reviews, all of books I’ve previously read and enjoyed caught my eye this week:

  • Iris’s review of Quiet by Susan Cain
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35 Responses to Sunday Salon: Lots of Book News

  1. Alex says:

    I moved my Google Reader account over to WordPress and now receive all new posts in my Reader here. That’s worked for those non-Wordpress blogs that I was already following, what I haven’t yet worked out how to do is add new non-WP blogs but I’m sure they’ll tell me if I ask nicely.

    I’m also very interested in the MOOC programmes. I did one last summer and am signed up for another later this year. I do wish there were more in the Humanities, however. It will be interesting to see what the range of courses available from the UK based platform, FutureLearn, will be like when it comes on-line later in the year. I’m interested in your phrase ‘limited-enrolment online classes’. What are you referring to here?

    • Teresa says:

      I thought about the WordPress Reader, but I don’t like the way it looks. I’m picky about that–I want my feed reader to be really plain, unless I’m looking at the blog itself.

      The limited enrollment classes I’m thinking of are more like traditional classes that are part of a degree program but taught online. There is a fee and some required interaction with the professor, and a cap to how many students can enroll. I’ve seen some buzz about MOOCs becoming part of degree programs, but I just can’t see how an open class with unlimited enrollment can have the accountability needed for a degree or a professional certification.

  2. vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas) says:

    Happy Easter, Teresa. I’ve moved (perhaps some more annoying word, like ‘transitioned’, is called for?) my google reader to feedly, which has a pretty simple, clean layout and is easy to use. I tried bloglovin, but couldn’t warm to the prettiness (I did, however, add on the ‘follow me’ bits of it to my blogs as I see their utility). I like that feedly recognizes that some of us want to just run out eyes down a big list (300-400 a day in my case) and pick the eyes out, rather than pretend we’re reading a design magazine. There are places for pretty and places for extreme efficiency (and no further incentives to waste even more reading time)! Good luck with your ‘transition’.

    • Teresa says:

      Happy Easter to you, Vicki! I imported my feeds to Feedly as well, but I didn’t like the way it looked. I actually found it too pretty for a feed reader, and it wasn’t intuitive for me at all. I’d really like a way to combine a plain reader (like The Old Reader or perhaps Feedly) with Bloglovin so I can get efficient skimming when I need it and visiting actual blogs when I have the time. Google Reader with the “next” bookmarklet gave me that.

      • vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas) says:

        My first impression of feedly was similar, but the latest update has made it much plainer (and me much happier!). The only annoyance I have is that it sometimes like to ‘refresh’ in the middle of reading…

  3. gaskella says:

    Happy Easter. I’ve been a Librarything fan for years, and love its simplicity and information density, finding GoodReads difficult to get around in comparison so I don’t use it much. I also tend to visit all my favourite blogs through bookmarks rather than a reader – so I guess most of this doesn’t really affect me! I’ve decided not to have a FB page for my blog at the moment, just referring from FB and Twitter to keep things simple and for less things to maintain. Hope you find a solution that works for you.

    • Teresa says:

      I prefer LT in a lot of ways, but I’ve never found it workable for books I just might want to read someday, while Goodreads is great for that. And the social features can be nice, although I don’t spend a lot of time on that part of it.

      • gaskella says:

        I must admit I keep my wishlist on Amazon mostly, but do have a ‘collection’ on LT outside my library to put some wishlist items.

  4. Laurie C says:

    Enjoyed your post this morning! I’m also excited to learn from one of your commenters, Alex, that I can import my Google Reader subscriptions into my WP Reader. I didn’t know that!

  5. vanbraman says:

    I have not seen much about Amazon buying Goodreads, but then I have not been to the site much during the last week as I am traveling. I help moderate a group on Goodreads, so I hope that there are not too many changes right away.

    • Teresa says:

      I hope there aren’t many changes at all, but there’s a lot of concern about whether “buy” buttons pointing to Amazon will be more prominent and whether they’ll change the way reviews are handled or cross-post them to Amazon. Time will tell on that.

      A more invisible change that’s worrying many is how much data-mining Amazon will do. Those who are disturbed about Amazon’s taking over the marketplace don’t like the idea of offering them heaps of helpful data.

  6. cbjames says:

    I use my blogroll to keep up with the blogs I enjoy reading. I’ve never tried to read ‘everything’ any one particular blog publishes. I’ve no desire to publish my own blog on twitter or facebook, which is one big reason why I’ve become a ‘consultant.’

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the TBR Double Dog Dare this year. Thanks for supporting it, too.

    • Teresa says:

      If WordPress had the option to have a blogroll that shows the latest updates, I’d consider doing that. But I also follow a lot of blogs that aren’t book-oriented and don’t belong in our blogroll, so I’d have to figure out something for those.

  7. Sly Wit says:

    Happy to see a post on the Goodreads news, as most of what I’ve seen has been on my Twitter feed. Amanda’s post sums up my reaction pretty well. I would only add that, on a personal note, I’ve always had mixed feelings about editing data as a volunteer librarian there. On the one hand, I wanted to improve a site I love, on the other, as an editor living in San Francisco who would love to work for them, I was giving Goodreads every reason not to actually hire editors. However, I thought it was worth doing (despite being pretty sure they didn’t expect people to code or design there for free) because it still had a start-up/community quality to it. Plus, I delighted in actually being able to edit a mistake when I came across one. But now I sort of feel that any time there is just free work for Amazon, which is a bit of a bummer.

    As for readers, I pretty much stopped actively using Google when the whole Google+ debacle happened and they redesigned Reader, which I still hate. Luckily, the majority of blogs I follow are WordPress so I now get those and a few others via email (which I love for book blogs because then I can easily save reviews for later). I follow too many blogs for the actual reader in WP to be useful, but I like that it allows me to quickly edit the WP ones to receive them as email content. I still went once a week to Reader to check for updates so I’m sort of happy they canned it because it forced me to find something else. I ended up at Feedly, which I feel is a huge improvement and I may now add back the WP blogs to that. I get your point about the design, but I really love using the folders to group like with like (music, local, food, etc.). Plus, i find I’m more inclined to click over to the actual blog in Feedly than in Reader.

    As for FB, I’m more suspicious of them than either Amazon or Google, so I don’t use any apps or “like” anything there. I use it strictly for keeping in touch with friends. I do link my blog there because many people I know aren’t into blogging, but they’ll link over and comment on the FB post.

    Finally (sorry to be so long!), I ended up with more books than I planned coming off of hold at the library so I didn’t read as much in my physical TBR pile as I wanted, but I think I did pretty well in the Double Dog Dare, with the most important change being that it helped to limit my multi-reading, which I’ve been wanting to do for awhile.

    • Teresa says:

      No apologies for a long comment–there’s a lot to talk about!

      I’m a volunteer librarian for Goodreads too, but I haven’t spent much time on it. I mostly signed up so I could fix things that I ran across so my own records would be correct. I’ll probably continue doing it even with Amazon owning it because I want my stuff to be correct.

      I’m pretty suspicious of FB, as well, but I use it for staying in touch with family and friends. It’s hard to do without it when so many people count on it. I keep my apps and liking to a minimum and have my privacy settings locked down pretty tight.

  8. I’m upset about Goodreads being bought, but I won’t delete my account as long as it stays unmonetized. As soon as “buy me now!” buttons or some such crap starts appearing, I may just go back to a pen and notebook to keep track of what I want to read. (I still have a notebook where I keep track of everything I’ve read since mid-2000.) I dislike Library Thing because it’s more about cataloging books and is less helpful for book discovery. They don’t include summaries, but the pages are covered in tags and other junky-looking stuff that I find distracting.

    Google Reader is a big loss for me as well. Social media is no substitute because if I miss a day or so, I won’t have those posts saved anywhere. Plus, I don’t want blog updates mixed in with news from all my friends. A lot of the alternatives require installing software or browser add-ons, but I want something that’s online because I use several different computers. I originally moved to Reader from Bloglines, and I’ve started moving my feeds back there again.

    • Teresa says:

      I’m keeping an eye on how pushy they are about buying from Amazon. Right now, Amazon is way down on the list of places to buy a copy on my book pages, but if they make themselves the default and push buying from them (which is a *totally* understandable choice for a business), I may bail. I’m more concerned about cross-posting reviews. I no longer review on GR, but I don’t want my past reviews to end up on Amazon. I love LT for cataloging, but agree that it’s not so great for book discovery. Once in a while an LT friend will catalog something that I look up. They are talking in the forums right now about the lack of book summaries and ways to rearrange book pages to appeal to Goodreads users. It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, changes.

  9. Lu says:

    This is a really informative post, but the one thing that sticks out to me is that we should be promoting each other. This is something I know you’ve talked about before, but now with things like BBAW and GR going away, it’s really time I get serious about it! Thanks for the gentle reminder. I am not really sure hwat I’m going to do in terms of a replacement. I guess we’ll see. I went a long time without Google Reader last year, just using my blogroll, and there were a lot of thigns I liked about it, but it was also nice to have GR to fall back on. We’ll see.

    • Teresa says:

      I did really well at sharing for a while, then got out of the flow of it. Amy’s BBAW decision (which I understand and support) reminded me how important that sharing is, so I’m trying to pick the habit back up.

  10. Jenny says:

    I started using Feedly, but it’s bumming me out. I miss Google Reader. Everything was so organized and nice and predictable in Google Reader. :(

  11. Danielle says:

    I had heard about Amazon buying out GR. I belong to GR but don’t use it as much as I could–I never seem to have enough time online to do everything I’d like to do as it is, so something always suffers in the end. I have very mixed feelings about Amazon, but I do shudder to think of everything they own and are taking over. A little competition is a healthy thing (at least for readers/consumers), but soon Amazon won’t have any competition, which is a scary thing. I hadn’t thought of the RSS angle in terms of Google Reader going away–and need to find another feed reader to use–I don’t do FB and Twitter only on a limited basis (again the time thing), and Typepad doesn’t offer email subscriptions for readers (I’d have to pay for the service from a third party), so it all seems to be becoming more complicated (or it has always been complicated and I’ve just not paid much attention!). Thanks so much by the way for linking to me–the McPherson book still remains in my mind. Did you read the sequel by any chance? I’m a little afraid to for fear it won’t compare.

    • Teresa says:

      I agree about competition being a good thing. I worry that with Amazon taking over so much of the book world, publishing decisions will be made according to what their data says, rather than based on what’s good. (Some of Diana Athill’s observations about best-sellers seem relevant to the issue.)

      I’d be really surprised if RSS were to go away entirely, but I keep hearing that it’s dead. I think it’s only dead for the people who spend all their time on social media and don’t need a service to save stuff for them. I have wondered if people were going to give up on using RSS readers with Google Reader dying, but it looks like people are finding alternatives, which is good news!

  12. This is a great discussion you have going, Teresa!
    I’ve been a GR member for 5-1/2 years and I’m on there every day. Like you, I love the discussions in the groups and find that its a wonderful place to list the books I want to read. I will not shop anywhere that Amazon owns, so I’m not sure if I’ll be leaving GR or not. I really don’t want them having any of my information. But I don’t want to leave my friends on GR!
    I never thought about the aspect of GR Librarians working for free for Amazon! Heck no! I call for all GR Librarians to quit as soon as the Amazon takeover is complete. When is it going to be completed, anyway? I’ll have to keep up with my daily email from the publishing community.
    As for losing the Google RSS feeds, I simply moved them over to Feedly, which has worked out well for me so far. Using the “Latest” button on the left side, everything is in a nice clean list that I think I like even better than Google.

    • Teresa says:

      I have shopped at the Book Depository since Amazon bought them, but less often, and I’ll use Amazon to get to third-party sellers when I can’t find used books elsewhere, but it’s been ages since I’ve had to do that. I’m slightly uneasy about their getting so much data about my reading habits, but then part of me things that if they’re taking over, maybe they need to see readers who want something besides sparky vampires are out there!

      I may give Feedly another try, but Bloglovin is mostly working well for me. It’s just taking a little getting used to.

    • Sly Wit says:

      The sale is supposed to be finalized in the second quarter. It will be interesting to see what happens with the librarians. I think they do a lot more work than people realize and there was a huge drop in the number of edits in the past week. Of course, that may just be the holiday, but I’m planning to track it going forward and see if it’s a trend.

      • Teresa says:

        Thanks for that info! I do very little editing (and all for my own selfish purposes), but it’ll be interesting to see if it drops totally. I gather from the LibraryThing forums that they’re seen a huge increase in registrations, and they’re offering free one-year memberships through Friday to encourage people with large catalogs to give it a try.

      • I’d love to hear what your tracking results are when you have them!

  13. Thanks so much for including my post here! There’s a lot tied up in that post that we could talk about ad nauseum.

    Like Lu, I love what you mention here about linking to favorite posts and blogs. Just as in research, I think it’s so important to credit ideas, inklings, etc. that other bloggers give you. This is indeed a community. We don’t exist in a vacuum, and that’s partly why I love it so.

    • Teresa says:

      I really enjoyed that post–I especially liked that you went to the trouble of getting check-out information.

      One of the things I love about the book blogging world is how willing most people are to share each other’s good work. It’s just a challenge for me to stay in the habit!

  14. Stefanie says:

    Thanks for the shout out!

    I am not happy about Amazon buying GoodReads. I’ve decided I won’t delete my account but I am not going to put up reviews on it any longer and the short lists I’ve created there I am moving over to WorldCat. I’m not a very good GoodReads user but I like that I can follow people/friends who don’t have blogs.

    I am very sad that Google Reader will be going away. I haven’t figured out yet what I will use instead. I want something simple and plain that lets me make folders like Google does. I looked at Feedly but didn’t like it. I’ll have to give Bloglovin a try.

    • Teresa says:

      Most of the people I follow on Goodreads are bloggers, so I’ll still have a way to see what they’re reading–as long as they blog about it. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about my account, but I’ll probably spend less time there (not that I spent much, but I did update my reading every day or two).

      Bloglovin is a totally different kind of feed reader, but I’m liking a lot. Commenting is so much easier, and it’s kind of nice to read people’s posts on their blogs.

  15. Sly Wit says:

    As an update on the librarian question, Goodreads just generated new stats this morning and librarian activity is extremely low for the past week, particularly in the US. As an example, I would say that to register in the top #50 librarians from week to week you would need to have at 300+ edits at a bare minimum. On the world list this week that would put you at #31, on the US list #14. I don’t remember ever seeing that little activity in the last six months or so.

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