A question was asked in the Everything Booklikes group on Goodreads.
"So Amazon bought Goodreads , site policy changed ? why is this in benefit of authors not readers ? how can this affect my reviews ? as a top Liberian how can this can affect me? "
I answered at length. It isn't just what is happening now, as much as what I think will happen in the near future. I might be wrong, I mightn't have gone far enough! (That bit is at the end. Search for *** if you want to read only that).
What started it was that Goodreads instead of just hiding negative reviews that were mostly about authors, deleted them without any warning. They also deleted shelves that had names they considered did not fit into their ToS. 21 people were affected. After that they decided they would tell people 2 days before they deleted anything. The only people who know are people who are active members of the Feedback group, although this new policy affects everyone. GR have elected not to tell the entire membership of the site.
Apparently anything negative (they don't mind praise) about an author is just irrelevant to a book review. Even if, as happened to one of the more prominent members of this group in the last week, an author 'requested' that they didn't write a review unless it was 5* gold.
There have also been threads on a site called Fiverr where people are selling Goodreads reviews, likes, listopia entries etc. some from multiple accounts for $5 per review, some will post the author's own reviews for them! Some of the people selling them are librarians. Goodreads is not doing anything at all about it unless presumably you can prove a review was paid for. In other words, if it helps the author sell books, then its fine.
So, quite a lot of people don't really like this high-handed approach that it is ok to punish reviewers who are reacting to badly-behaving authors who leave inflammatory comments on reviews they don't like, spam people sometimes for years on end, or complain about them elsewhere on the net. This is very author-centric.
The head of Goodreads is the head of the Kindle division of Amazon. Goodreads is now an integral part of the new Kindle. Amazon does not exist so people can discuss books, it exists only to sell them. Or anything. Authors produce product, you don't damage your manufacturing plant!
And reviewers, reviewers data is sold, they produce the objective reviews advertising copy and are also the target market for the product. Librarians are a vast unpaid staff that maintain the database and thereby increase Amazon's profits.
I think further actions by Amazon will include standardisation of shelf names, dis-allowing curse words and graphically sexual descriptions or gifs, not featuring books with overtly sexual titles (they just deleted a whole load of books from Amazon and the authors are not allowed to reupload them with different ones).
It won't be long before you will be able to sign into Goodreads with an Amazon login, the want-to-read shelf here and wish-list there will be synced and there goes your privacy, they will know by your clicks, that SunnyB on GR is really Jane Doe living at 34 Street Lane, Harbour, Mississippi or wherever. Even more valuable data to sell.
I also think that algorithms that calculate the position of reviews on book pages will be rejigged so that the featured ones will be from the favoured reviewers (ones that participate in Amazon's Vine program, or get a lot of publishers' ARCS or are popular among people who click through to purchase the books) rather than ones voted as popular by GR members.
The 'recommendations' (read: advertising) of GR authors' books, already everywhere will increase enormously. The algorithm will include older books and classics but will be biased towards any author or publishing company that is also paying for advertising.
In other words GR will become a lot more family-friendly, a lot more anodyne, a lot less about opinions and a lot, lot more about selling books, especially on Kindle.
And if you haven't got a Kindle, I'm sure there will be special offers for GR members quite soon.
Does anyone remember at the time of the Amazon takeover, not long ago, when Otis said nothing would change?