Publisher Pet Peeve: “Goodreads” Reviews

This is something that’s been around a while and that has equally annoyed me for the time it’s been around (I had hoped it would go away with time – it hasn’t) but I recently got a couple of emails where this had been done and I thought I’d finally write something about it, because I haven’t seen anyone else mention it.

What I’m talking about is when publishers quote a review of a book on their publicity material and simply credit it as “Goodreads” or “Goodreads review”. Sometimes, they even venture into “Amazon review”, but either way: I’m not sure it’s right, and I’m almost certain that it’s just laziness on their part.

It’s not accurate, either: Goodreads doesn’t actually “write” any reviews. They’re just an aggregator site. And sure, when you post any of your stuff you agree to these terms:

“By posting any User Content on the Service, you expressly grant, and you represent and warrant that you have a right to grant, to Goodreads a royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, list information regarding, edit, translate, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, and make derivative works of all such User Content and your name, voice, and/or likeness as contained in your User Content, in whole or in part, and in any form, media or technology, whether now known or hereafter developed, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing for any purpose at the sole discretion of Goodreads.”

Which as far as I can see basically means you pretty much giver ownership of your “User Content” (eg. review) – so technically, (at least as far as I can see – legal talk baffles me a little) publishers are well in their right to attribute it to them, considering they have a licence to reproduce it as and when they please -but that doesn’t mean they should

Of course – we all love being quoted in publicity materials or in/on books – and I’m sure that if I were quoted as such I’d be pretty pleased. But you know what? I’d be more pleased if they’d attributed the quote to my name and/or my blog. I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I get quoted; it’s nice, it’s pleasant to know that what you’ve written has said something that the publishers think is worthy keeping. I can even manage it when they incorrectly punctuate and/or capitalise ThirstForFiction (it’s not Thirst for Fiction or Thirst For Fiction – though of the two I prefer the former), but if you can’t be bothered to put my name on my quote, I feel a bit let down.

So publishers, whom we love with all our hearts and all our souls, please, in the future, credit us or our blogs when you quote our reviews. It means a lot to us not just that you use them, but also that you get our names right: we’re not just a “Goodreads review”, we’re real people with real names, with a real passion for your books. And it’s not that hard to take the extra second to find out what we’re called if you found us on Goodreads.

About Rhys

Rhys is a 19 year old with roots in the UK and Germany. Aside from reading and blogging, he also produces theatre, loves Kate Bush and hopes to pursue a career in publishing. His reviews have been widely quoted in books such as Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines Quartet, Catherine Bruton’s Pop!, James Treadwell’s Advent and Anarchy and he has presented at such events as Book Expo America.

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