Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Forbes 25 Reviewers - #14 Richard

Today's guest is Richard.  Richard also posts at  Shelf Inflicted and Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

How did you discover Goodreads?
Like all the best stuff in life, I learned about it on the streets. Hey, isn't that where we learn about sex, drugs, booze? So I got mugged by a Goodreader when I was minding my own business over on LibraryThing. She dragged me here, plopped me down, and said, "See?" I didn't, really. I joined in 2010, and midway through 2011 made a friend who changed things around here for me.

What have been your most memorable Goodreads experiences?
Becoming friends with Stephen, another of the Forbes 25, introduced me to the wider world of wingnuts he hung with. The rest is history. One thing Goodreads taught me was that one gets out of social media what one puts into social media. Show up, make a contribution, lather rinse repeat. Over time, that makes both friends and enemies. But for someone like me, basically homebound and not very boredom tolerant, Goodreads has expanded my social reach and stimulated my ever-questing readerly brain.

Name one reviewer not in the Forbes 25 that people should be aware of.
Only one? No. Sven Penkevich writes beautiful, closely reasoned dissertations on books and authors I've never heard of, but now want to read. Rose Summers keeps me in touch with the youth market. Steve Kendall writes love letters to books that make me weep with jealousy. Jeffrey Keeten! Carol Siewert! Will Byrnes! My feed seethes with wonderful reviewers who read and discuss books I would never have heard of otherwise, making me long for more hours, more eyes, and an unlimited book budget.

What was your initial reaction to Amazon buying Goodreads?
Negative. Amazon is a sales organization, and I am a customer of theirs. Goodreads is a social media site, and I am a member of theirs. The concepts are different. Goodreads made money by collecting data on my tastes in books, aggregating it, and selling ads to publishers and authors to keep the lights on and buy cat food for the founders. Now that Amazon directly owns Goodreads, their already extensive knowledge of my book-buying habits can be deployed at AND at I use AdBlocker to keep the screaming blinking buyme-buyme that assaults me to a minimum. Now it can be made more insidious, oh dear I mean more convenient for me to shop.

I detest Amazon's reviews. I don't trust them...anyone remember Harriet Klausner?...and I vigorously dislike the thuggish culture of five-stars-or-else that's allowed to flourish there. There is some of that on Goodreads as well, as anyone who has ever posted a review critical of the Book of the Moment knows. But here's where the social part of social media rescues the outliers: Friends rally to one's defense. Because they do, others in their circle notice one's reviews, and read them, and come to one's defense with "Like"s and troll fighting. Never happen on Amazon, speaking from old experience.

So, being cynical and believing the worst that can happen is but a prelude to the true hell to come, it seemed and seems to me likely that Amazon's ownership of Goodreads will mean happy-clappy fivestarland with extra soma for all is but a breath away.

How many books do you own?
Fewer than I used to, but an accurate count is impossible. Over 1000, under 3000.

Who is your favorite author?
Vladimir Nabokov. Pnin, Ada, or Ardor, these would be the masterworks of another writer's career. For Volodya's career, they're second rank works after the perfect beauty and creepy repulsiveness of Lolita.

Close second is Virginia Woolf, whose Mrs. Dalloway is another perfect book, and whose Orlando is breathtaking. (See? I can't pick Just One of anything!)

What is your favorite book of all time?
HA! Limiting this to TEN is too hard! But to avoid re-listing the catalog of the Library of Congress, I'll say this: Books saved me from a difficult childhood, and one book above all others shone a beacon of hope for me: The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. The original, not one of the abridged and bastardized Disnifications. Escape and rescue and support...all the things I think every kid in difficult circumstances desires. Forty-plus years on, it's not aged well, being racist and sexist and so on. But it helped me then, and I love it for that.

What are your thoughts on ebooks?  What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
Treating these as one question, because they're so interrelated.

I have a Kindle and an Android tablet and read on both of them. I don't read books for review that way, since the highlighting features are arcane and overcomplicated for my two-volt nervous system. Ink on paper plus Book Darts (wonderful things, those, since I ***HATE*** writing in my books).

What will ebooks mean to publishing? New paradigm. The end of the consignment model of book sales (about goddamned time too). The end of gatekeeping, a decidedly mixed blessing. No longer does a rejection from Putnam, Farrar Straus & Giroux, The Dial Press, and Knopf mean your collection of interlinked short stories telling the life of Madame Blavatsky in 420-character chapters mean that no one but your lover and your dog will hear your words. But unhappily it also means your work is less likely to be edited, copyedited, and proofread by people whose job this is.

This problem is rife in the ebook world, and not just among indie authors and small publishers. Major houses are putting out books with, for example, plurals formed by apostrophes, both ebooks and tree books. This is not trivial and it's not at all a good thing. Not only does it dumb down the readers who come to accept it, it deprives the editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders of jobs, and makes passing on those skills to the next generation less likely. And then comes the day when it's not important anymore because no one knows any better.

See? Told you I was cynical.

Any literary aspirations?
No. None. Why, do you think I should? (said in best Tim-Curry-as-Dr. Frank N. Furter voice)

No comments:

Post a Comment