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An open letter to Otis Chandler (or the goon overlords at @Amazon) on the Goodreads Brand Equity

3 min read

Otis,

First from your own Goodreads bio:

For me the value I get out of Goodreads is that it helps me read more. I have a theory that what gets a person excited to read a book is when they have a strong recommendation. Recommendations from friends are the best, but we don't always have the luxury of having those, so we've built a community of book readers and a top-notch algorithmic recommendation engine to help people find their next favorite read.

Next, I'll note that I've just started getting emails from Goodreads this week with headlines like "Chris, your Goodreads Deals for Saturday". I would probably care about the contents of these if they had ANY book I might actually begin to consider. Instead they appear to be cheap romance thrillers that I would never consider reading. Where did the top-notch algorithmic recommendation engine go?!

Because the "recommendations" in these emails don't appear to actually use any data you have on me at all, they're completely useless to me, and--I suspect--to everyone else.  These books aren't anything I'd be interested in, instead they're just cheap books that you (or perhaps Amazon is forcing your hand for some base profit motive) are advertising, likely on someone else's behalf to get higher margin.  This completely goes against the Goodreads value proposition and is thus killing your brand equity in the market place--it's certainly hurting it in my mind. I really love Goodreads, and these emails border on making me want to quit.

Instead of getting one of these completely useless emails every day, I'd far prefer you mined my "want to read" list or use the "if you liked this, you'll love this" functionality against my active lists for discount possibilities and send me just one email a week or even per month. You'll also be far more likely to get any kind of conversion. 

Given the data they have on me, my Amazon Kindle Paperwhite already does a horrific job of recommending some of the worst looking novels on the planet. It's so bad I actually want to pay the fee to make the ads go away. Please don't let Goodreads follow suit. Let Bookbub continue to be the bookspam in my email account that I don't read or pay attention to and allow the emails from Goodreads that I always open keep their Tiffany place in my heart.

Warmest regards,

Chris