Saturday, October 25, 2008

So Long, B&N

Reviews from PODBRAM will no longer be posted at the Barnes & Noble website. Here is the whole sordid story. The action that B&N online has taken has angered me considerably more than the controversial action taken by Amazon earlier this year. I harbor no animosity toward the Barnes & Noble store chain, but my interaction as both a customer and reviewer at B&N online has been brought to a screeching halt. Eleven days ago, while researching a detail concerning a book review I had posted at B&N back in 2006 when PODBRAM was still known as iUBR, I discovered that B&N online had removed all the identifying details from all the reviews on the company's website. The texts of the actual reviews have been left intact, but all the other information supplied by the reviewers has vanished into the land of Anonymous. After discovering this fiasco, I informed the PODBRAM team members that I would give B&N at least a week to reinstate all the missing data. B&N, your time is up.

I don't know if this was an intentional action on the part of the B&N tech staff or not. One of the team members at PODBRAM contacted B&N and received only a generic, form-letter, e-mail reply. Obviously B&N was setting up a new, more detailed rating system for their book reviews. In doing so, all the identifying information has been replaced simply by the word Anonymous. The reviewer's name, real or otherwise, and whatever self-descriptive phrase he chose to include, are now gone. All the titles of the reviews and the recommended other titles the reviewers chose to list have also been deleted. All of them are gone, and that means from all the reviews previously posted. Every link from a reviewed title at PODBRAM now leads to a page at B&N upon which a review composed by a PODBRAM reviewer is present, but the reader cannot discern who wrote which review! There are no more plugs for PODBRAM, any of the PODBRAM team of reviewers, their websites, or their books. Each and every carefully titled and crafted review posted to B&N by PODBRAM reviewers is now hidden in a forest of unidentifiable book reviews by amateurs. We are no longer able to key the readers into a known entity that is similar to the book being reviewed. We are no longer able to highlight comparable, but unknown books we at PODBRAM have had the priviledge to discover. We can never again offer a special review tailored to the B&N audience and link to it from the title's PODBRAM review.

Those last few statements are not completely true. Any reviewer can set up a new B&N account and identify himself or herself as a reviewer at B&N from now until the cows come home. The problem is that the information posted will only apply to any reviews written from this day forward. Of course a reviewer could go back and resubmit every review to B&N, displaying all the missing information, but do you know how long that would take? The cows from years ago will never come home. Every bit of work we have all done in posting reviews for years now is virtually up in smoke. Does B&N think we do this just so we can hide in the forest of anonymity? The PODBRAM team members are free to continue to post at B&N as much as they want. I have no intention of stopping anyone from giving away his talent to these corporate butts. My personal feelings and actions are a different matter. I founded PODBRAM in July 2006 to build a respectable body of work as a book critic, and I cannot accomplish this goal by reviewing anonymously. Any reviews I write from now on will be posted at Blogger News Network, Amazon, and PODBRAM. Skrew U, B&N!


Al said...

Hear, hear!

I spent a lot of time on quite a few reviews at B&N. I treated them seriously, and they were professional products. B&N has consigned them to anonymity without even the courtesy of an explanation.

I too say the hell with B&N.

DSalerni said...

Clearly B&N, (unlike Amazon) has never considered that reviewers spend their time writing and posting reviews to establish their own reputation as a reviewer -- rather than simply aid (or prevent) future sales of that product.

Malcolm R. Campbell said...

I see this as a copyright issue since many of the reviews are written by professional reviewers for other sites and outlets prior to being posted on B&N. Removing our names obscures the copyright holder of the material.


Hettie said...

I wonder if this wasn't the result of some IT wunderkind's technical work. Quite often I've found the tail wagging the dog in business and IT idiots causing havoc.