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MannyRayner

Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten

Up the Amazon Without a Paddle: A Humorist's Offbeat Adventures Around the World

Up the Amazon Without a Paddle - Doug Lansky [Moving my conversation with Thirteenth Peer to this review]

Peer: I propose we boycott Manny till he returns his content to the community that fostered him with our "likes". Let's hit him where it hurts and refuse to "like" any more of his reviews and even remove our old "likes"!

Me: Peer, I respect your opinions, but I am collecting my favorite reviews and preserving them where our new corporate masters are unable to tamper with them. They are available as nicely formatted PDFs or as printed books. I am just asking for a few dollars to recompense me for the time my editor and I have invested.

I strongly encourage others to do the same thing. There are plenty of people on this site whose reviews I would be prepared to buy on similar terms.

Peer: Manny, as I see it you already had collected and preserved your favorite reviews by making your book. (Of course the same functions could be accomplished by simply copying to your own harddrive or even printing them out.). I think it's cool that you decided to make a book out of them and I certainly don't object to you charging a few dollars.

On the other hand it really kind of bothers me that you put up a "pay wall" where your reviews are no longer accessible to people like me. That seems to me a separate issue from the gr amazon deal making.

Now I will be clear, it's not my business really what you choose to do. On the other hand as someone who has looked up to you and appreciated your contributions to the community, I'm having a "Say it ain't so Joe" moment with you using the amazon acquisition as a pretext to "monetize" your writings.

I certainly feel some sense of betrayal due to the amazon acquisition of gr. on the other hand I'm still thinking about what it means to me and have been reading other people's postings on the topic with interest. I would certainly like to hear your opinions on the topic as well. But I wanted to register with you personally my feeling of disappointment with your choice.

Me: Peer, it's very hard to know what the right thing is to do in a situation like this. It appears that we've all been transformed into commodities: the site has been valued based on the number of members. I do not see any way of turning the clock back.

One sensible thing to do would be to leave, and several people I respect, e.g. notgettingenough and BirdBrian, have done that. I am trying a different approach: accepting that it's now a commercially run site, and being commercial myself.

I am not taking a very tough line here. I post my reviews openly as I always have done, but sometimes I may remove them later and leave links to a version which you can purchase for a small amount of money. If people want, they are free to download my reviews themselves while they are up. I imagine, though, that it will generally be simpler to pay a few dollars and let me do a hundred or so at once.

This is basically a way to feel like I am less of a sucker. I have helped create value here, and some people are making plenty of money out of it. I am making a token protest to the effect that I would also like to be paid. I'm trying to do that in as neutral a way as possible.

As I said, I encourage other people to do the same. There are quite a few people here whose work I would be happy to buy on similar terms. I am curious to see what happens if a large number of members start doing this. I imagine looking at the bookcase in the living room and seeing a shelf and a half of nicely formatted "best-of" collections which my friends here had published, and I kind of like it. You know, old-fashioned paper books instead of bytes on a server controlled by some impersonal multinational.

Mind you, I'm sure Amazon would prefer it if everyone meekly accepted the new status quo and carried on as before.