Something weird is going on with Goodreads. While I was rating some books last night, I noticed that one of them had the following message across the top of the screen: "This edition is in danger of being removed from Goodreads. Will you rescue it?"
One of my books with the message. Click for larger image.
I clicked the Learn More button and got the following message:
At Goodreads, we make it a priority to use book information from the most reliable and open data sources, because it helps us build the best experience for our members. To that end, we're making a major change.
On January 30, Goodreads will no longer display book information that comes from Amazon.
This includes data such as titles, author names, page counts, and publication dates. For the vast majority of book editions, we have imported this data from other sources. Those few remaining editions for which we haven't found an alternative source of information will be removed from Goodreads.
Off to the left Goodreads then gives the visitor an option to update the information and rescue the book so long as 1) they can get the information from a reliable sources like the author's website (you must submit URL along with your submission) or a hard copy of the book in your hands.
What you see after clicking Learn More. Click for larger image
I checked my three books on Goodreads and found that the Kindle editions for my two traditionally published books had that same message on their page while the my self-published book did not. (Yes, I rescued my books.)
This leaves me with several questions:
1) Why is Goodreads removing Amazon book information from it's website?
2) Why don't they consider Amazon book information a "reliable and open data source"?
3) What do they consider an "reliable and open data source"?
4) Why does this just seem to be affecting Kindle editions of the book?
5) Why did I have to rescue my traditionally published books but not my self-published one?
Scouring their website didn't give me answers. Several Google searched didn't either. Off the top of my head the only reason I can think of for doing this is that there's a lot of copyright infringement going with Kindle books and they're having a hard time sorting out the real editions from the fake one. But that's just an educated guess.
I did email Goodreads asking them the reason for this change but as of now haven't received a response. (Their website says it may take several days to reply to emails.) If they respond, I'll let you know. In the meantime, if anyone has any information on why Goodreads is removing Amazon book info from their site, shoot me an email or leave a comment below.
Update: Thanks for the comments. It appears it is an Amazon issue which, I admit is a tad surprising. I think I've found the official statement from Goodreads here. Part of what it says is:
Amazon's data has been great for us for many years, but the terms that come with it have gotten more and more restrictive, and we were finally forced to come to the conclusion that moving to other datasources will be better for Goodreads and our members in so many ways that we had to do it. It may be a little painful, but our aim is to make it as seamless as possible for all our members.
Amazon data that we will stop using includes data such as titles, author names, page counts, and publication dates. For the vast majority of book editions, we are currently importing this data from other sources. Once the imports are done, those few remaining editions for which we haven't found an alternative source of information will be removed from Goodreads.
I wish they'd give a little more detail. Please send me any links if you have them.
Update 2: Goodreads finally got back to me. The content of their email is below:
Thanks for writing in. For years, we’ve used Amazon’s data, and while they have always had certain restrictions and requirements, those terms have gotten harder and harder to adhere to. We have been working as hard as we can to find a new, independent source of data. Ultimately, though, this deadline is Amazon’s, and they have told us that we must stop using their data by January 30, and we have to meet this deadline.
Looking at the bright side of this, we’ve never been able to use Amazon data in our mobile apps, and we’ve had to show Amazon buy links and only Amazon buy links on all book pages sourced from them. Obviously, that will now change. Ultimately, we feel that while we would have chosen a more relaxed timetable for all of this, having our own data will make Goodreads a stronger, more independent site.
For more information about the change, please see Patrick’s post.
Update 3: There's a nice thread over on The Passive Voice's post about this.