Finding alternatives to the Behemoth
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Peter Maranci
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Speak of the devil...but this suit is over the passwords for purchases issue, not their other practices. I wonder how it will end up?
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Peter Maranci
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I think most of us pretty much saw this coming; Amazon is abusing their power. How much worse could it get in the years to come, as their market position only gets stronger and their lobbyists get even more influence?
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AnnaAt Leafmarks's profile photo
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I gave Leafmarks a try. Here are my impressions so far:

Designed by Goodreads expatriates. It has a nice look and is easy to navigate on a large screen. It's not as mobile-friendly as I would like; navigation was difficult on my Galaxy Nexus (phone). It is slow, even on a FIOS connection. I just clicked on one of my bookshelves, and it took about three full seconds to load. On a mobile connection, it's even slower. You'll see the "loading" symbol often while you're on the site.

The site allows importation of Goodreads CSV files only. Importation was fairly speedy and smooth. Internal links in reviews to GoodReads material are NOT stripped. Shelves were imported properly, and I haven't found any errors yet.

Leafmarks does have many of the features that Goodreads had, ones which are missing from many similar sites. You can easily "like" and comment on reviews. Speaking of "liking", it allows you to sign in with your Facebook ID, but you can also create an account directly on the site itself (which I prefer, as Facebook is arguably as bad as Amazon). It's very easy to look up all reviews of a specific book.

You can post "status" updates, which can pretty much be whatever you want; your milage may vary, but I rather like that feature. There is a "Community" tab, but it's currently limited to a list of top reviewers and giveaways; there are no discussion or topic-specific communities that I can find. That would be a nice feature to add.

You can follow reviewers by adding them to your Friends list. There are author pages, although the bibliographies seem incomplete in some cases. I noticed no advertising, nor were there links to sell books as far as I could see. The site is, of course, sparse compared to Goodreads; many of the (admittedly rare) books that I reviewed weren't reviewed by anyone else. But the reviews did seem genuine, and some are quite well-done and interesting.

Overall, I'd say that it's a very promising site!

https://www.leafmarks.com/
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Erich W's profile photoAnnaAt Leafmarks's profile photoValeri Zwick's profile photo
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I am using Leafmarks less and less. The site is excruciatingly, mind-numbingly slow and everybody seems to be talking about the same books. Maybe it's just me but I also keep seeing the same people  on every book page...  :/
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Peter Maranci
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Erich W's profile photo
Erich W
 
Amazon is a big problem when it comes to books but we the consumer play a big part as well. eBooks are purchased but have none of the rights as physical books but the costs are almost equal. eBooks are not as readily available as physical books even for new releases a good amount might not be sold digitally even though the book all the way thru production was digital. Amazon also creates it's own ebook version mobi instead of the standard and that keeps it a closed ecosystem. 
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Erich W

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Anyone know which sites can be synced with calibre to manage ebooks
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Anyone have any advice on using an Amazon Webstore and actually having your listings show up with the same information that's in a typical Amazon result page listing?? Amazon's answers are vague at best and basically make it impossible to update 1500 or so listings. Their answer is essentially fixing the issue 1 by 1.....unbelievable! 
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Peter Maranci
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Peter Maranci's profile photo
 
I posted a comment over there:

Goodreads/Amazon isn't just deleting reviews over the issues listed in the article. They're also "disappearing" reviews which include criticism of the Goodreads/Amazon deal, or of Amazon itself. What's more, they're doing so in a particularly dishonest way.

I added paragraphs critical of the Amazon acquisition of Goodreads to some of my most popular reviews there. I soon discovered that although I could still see my own reviews when logged in as myself, they were invisible to anyone else! I was eventually informed in a Goodreads forum by a staffer that this would be done for all such reviews. Which means that Goodreads is no longer an unbiased forum or a place for open and free literary discussion. It's a market, nothing more. And the book-lovers who spent hundreds or thousands of hours contributing to GR, unpaid, out of the sheer love of books, are now nothing more than commodities...a herd, in which the rambunctious ones are to be eased out and corralled, well out of view. It's not unlike the "Free Speech Zones" which were invented by the Bush administration.

A large part of the outrage that has inflamed so many Goodreads contributors is this: approximately a year before their sale to Amazon, Goodreads was experiencing a serious crisis. Amazon had withdrawn their permission for GR to include their book data. Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler took to the forums, begging contributors to rally to save the site from the rapacious Amazon.com and re-create the data that was being taken away.

And they did. Thousands of contributors devoted an unknown number of unpaid hours - likely well over a hundred thousand, in aggregate - to re-create that missing data by hand. Their actions may have saved Goodreads. They certainly enhanced its value.

Now, multimillion-dollar deals don't happen on the spur of the moment - not often, anyway. So a year later, when it was announced that Goodreads had been acquired by what we'd all been told was the "enemy", many of us couldn't help feeling confused and betrayed. Had Otis known all along that he'd be selling out to Amazon? Even when he was begging us all to save him and Goodreads from them?

By all accounts he made many millions of dollars from the sale. And without our work, Goodreads wouldn't have been worth a fraction of that price. Otis and his wife walked away with wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. And what did we get? A degraded site that took high-handed and often secret measures to silence dissent and discussion. No wonder many of us are pissed off!

Some of us moved elsewhere. LibraryThing was one popular destination. So too was BookLikes. The pattern was not unlike refugees fleeing a homeland which had been occupied by a sinister regime. Some stayed, and gloried in the new Amazonian rule, of course; there's never any shortage of gullible toadies. Some went on with their lives, either on Goodreads or elsewhere.

I started a community on Google Plus, called "Escaping Amazon". It's no longer very active, but it does include a lot of information on alternatives to shopping with Amazon.com. I started accounts on several other book review sites, too. But I never really got back into writing reviews. Those other sites simply don't have enough activity, or at least not enough for me. They lack the minimum number of users (I suspect) to generate the sort of conversations and feedback that once made Goodreads so much fun.

Instead, I track and review the books that I love in a spreadsheet that I maintain for my son. I won't be anyone's  "product"; I'm a book lover, not a whore. And that's why I left Goodreads.
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Peter Maranci
owner

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I must admit, sadly, that I haven't posted a book review in months. There simply doesn't seem to be any point. None of the alternative sites that I tried resulted in any feedback to speak of; no interesting conversations or even dull ones.

I have to admit that it's really depressing to think about. The great big steamroller of money has rolled over a formerly vibrant community and left a wasteland of advertising and vitriol, populated mostly by people who don't know what they've lost. One of these days soon I'll delete my profile over there.

Every time I think about writing a new book review, a bitter taste fills my mouth. Apparently this is the future of speech: nothing but commercials. I can't say that I like it. And I won't be anybody's "product".

So instead I've been working on a spreadsheet of books for my son. It lists books by title and author, with fields to indicate literary categories and whether or not we've read it as a bedtime story. I also included a field for notes, essentially brief reviews written from a very personal perspective. I actually enjoy writing those.

Rather than allow my words and opinions to be purchased, I'm taking them private. It's lonelier. But it's better and cleaner than the alternative.
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Peter Maranci's profile photoErich W's profile photo
Erich W
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my issue is i'm tired of putting books and reviews into sites and they stay stuck on that site. I want a site where it syncs with calibre and I can export the data or sync the data with another site
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Libib

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If you haven't visited libib.com recently, take another look. Recent additions include:

Making your library public
Manual additions (add your own items manually)
Up to 100 libraries (up from 3 - you can thing of these as shelves)
Detailed micro-grammer search

We take user feedback seriously, and attempt to implement as many suggestions as we can. As long as it fits in our philosophy: easy to use, easy to understand; we will seriously consider your ideas.
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Erich W

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My worry about these book sites is that they are silo's for our information. The problem is the time you invest in these sites by creating reviews, bookshelves etc..I would like these sites to work together if you opt in so that it doesn't matter which book site you are on you can see all the sites pulled reviews or if you want to move to a different book site all your information can move with you or you can have your information on multiple sites. Let's see what the users and book sites think.
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Libib's profile photo
Libib
 
Hey, just want to let you know that our site libib.com, along with a few others allow for exports of all your data in CSV format as well as importing.
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Peter Maranci
owner

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I can't help but wonder why regulators aren't taking an interest in Amazon's shady business practices. Or perhaps they are, and we're just not hearing about it.
After months of wielding the stick, Amazon is trying the carrot—or at least pretending to—in its feud with Hachette over e-book pricing. Early this week, it sent a letter to “a few authors and agents” with a sugarcoated proposal to “take authors out of the middle” of the dispute. So...
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Peter Maranci
owner

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I thought this might be of interest; Colbert is quite influential, so his public stand against Amazon may actually have some impact.
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Nancy Simpson-Brice's profile photoErich W's profile photo
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Erich W
 
Glad he's bring up this issue
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Dawn E

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Not sure if this relevant to the group, but posting anyways...

#amazon  
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Peter Maranci's profile photo
 
It seems quite relevant to me, actually. Thanks for posting it!
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The closest thing to Goodreads I've come across so far:

https://www.leafmarks.com/  (home)
https://www.leafmarks.com/jmak  (example profile)
https://www.leafmarks.com/lm/#/books/119092 (random book)
https://www.leafmarks.com/lm/#/authors/19990 (random author profile)

The site is still in its infancy (and loads way too slow) but it looks promising and I'm really excited for the first time after leaving Goodreads.  :)
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Peter Maranci's profile photoDylan Cross's profile photo
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For those in the erotica genre, there's a project underway to create a Goodreads replacement.... https://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Erotica-oriented-bookshelving-website/716180555092763 
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Biblio is obviously not a disinterested party, but this article on alternatives to Amazon is interesting and useful nonetheless. The article is a bit outdated, though. It refers to the Amazon/Goodreads conflict, and obviously predates the Amazon acquisition of GR.
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Ska NOYB

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New GoodReads Guidelines

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1499741-important-note-regarding-reviews

(My favorite message is no. 5458 by SubterraneanCatalyst: "Hindsight is 20/20. I thought the people that left after Amazon acquired GR were hysterical and adopted a "wait and see" attitude myself. I have had accounts with IMDB, Zappos for almost ten years and didn't see any change after the Amazon buyouts so I thought the same would apply here. I was naive. I'm thoroughly disgusted by GRamazon.")

Some online buzz:
*Goodreads’ growing pains
*Goodreads to Take a Page From Amazon
*Goodreads Announces New Content Policy

edit:
I would also like to share this rather insightful comment by GR member Bugmenot. http://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/413-exciting-news-about-goodreads-we-re-joining-the-amazon-family?page=40#comment_71139048

On a side note, I've become quite comfortable with tracking my reading progress using an Excel spreadsheet and haven't thought about GR for quite a while. Good riddance to the whole mess.
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Peter Maranci
owner

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I've managed to avoid doing business with Amazon for months now. But I need a perforator for a project that I'm working on, and the only manufacturer, Tonic Studios, doesn't sell direct. I went to their website to find a "stockist", and there's none available, not even at the maximum range of 1000 miles! Not that I'm going to travel 1000 miles for a seven-dollar craft tool. :D

So with great reluctance I went to Amazon. I'd signed out, so I signed back in...but no matter what I do, I can't check out. Probably a glitch, but I suppose it's possible that Amazon maintains an "enemies list"?

Guess I'll have to figure out some alternative.


Edit: It didn't take long. I went to Google Shopping (should have tried that first, but my web search for "perforator" on Google took me to Amazon first - and listed no other entry) and was able to get the same perforator for $6.08, including shipping. And Amazon doesn't get a penny of that.
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Peter Maranci
owner

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Do you think that the acquisition of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos will influence the Post's coverage of Amazon.com and monopolies in general?

And yes, I know that Amazon is technically not a monopoly. But it does seem that they're heading that way as quickly as they can. You've heard of "food deserts"? Those are areas where there are few or no supermarkets or food stores. It would be interesting to know how many book deserts there are in America.

My current city has NO bookstores - none at all. The nearest bookstore is at least a half-tour drive away. And it's a Barnes & Nobles, so it'll probably be gone within five years. They're circling the drain by all accounts.
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Erich W's profile photo
Erich W
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you can't be owned by someone who is a major part of a company and not expect special interest or non bias
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