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Goodreads to Take a Page From Amazon

The start-up's new review policy isn't so sitting so well with users. Here's how to fix that.

Several months after Amazon acquired Goodreads, the social reading site is facing backlash over its new review policy. 

The trouble began, as GigaOm reports, when Goodreads announced in mid-September plans to delete reviews about authors' behavior rather than their works. Presumably, the goal was to make the site more hospitable for authors, to whom Goodreads sells advertising and promotional packages. 

Things didn't exactly go according to plan. Several of the site's most active users--Goodreads has over 20 million members--took to social media to complain about the deleted posts. Others fled to competitors such as BookLikes. 

The company updated the policy two more times before finally emailing its members an apology on Wednesday. “We should have notified you and provided you with a copy of your content when we deleted the reviews," it read. But then, the company posted a FAQ addressing the policy, which only seemed to undermine its users' complaints.

Now that Goodreads members are monitoring their reviews more closely, the site faces an uphill battle in keeping them happy while promoting the authors who keep the company in business. To counter this problem, Goodreads may take a page from its owner, as Laura Hazard Owen suggests, and allow users to vote others' reviews as "helpful" or "not helpful." Theoretically, the best comments rise would to the top, users would have another way to engage, and the worst reviews would drop from the site. 

Owens reports that Goodreads has hired a data scientist to help with the matter. Until then, the company should work on its PR strategy. 

Last updated: Oct 4, 2013

JILL KRASNY | Staff Writer

Jill Krasny is a staff writer for Inc. magazine, where she covers the intersection of entertainment and startups. Prior to Inc., she was a writer for MTV and Esquire and an editor at TheStreet. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in communication. She lives in New York City.

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