Amazon acquires literary social media website Goodreads

Some Goodreads users are excited about the prospect of linking their Amazon devices to their Goodreads accounts while others feel betrayed by the decision.

By , Staff Writer

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    The acquisition of Goodreads by book-buying giant Amazon is expected to close by July.
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In a move that has angered some in the book world, Amazon has bought popular social media book website Goodreads.

Goodreads lets readers view recommendations from other users and comment on their favorite titles, and having the website may give Amazon more of an ability to reach readers and recommend books.

In a statement on their website, Goodreads founder Otis Chandler wrote, “Goodreads will continue to be the wonderful community that we all cherish. We plan to continue offering you everything that you love about the site—the ability to track what you read, discover great books, discuss and share them with fellow book lovers, and connect directly with your favorite authors—and your reviews and ratings will remain here on Goodreads. And it's incredibly important to us that we remain a home for all types of readers, no matter if you read on paper, audio, digitally, from scrolls, or even stone tablets.”

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The site was founded in 2007 and now boasts more than 16 million members. Chandler wrote on the company’s blog that “Goodreads and the awesome team behind it are not going away,” so it seems as if the website’s staff will stay on.

Chandler said of becoming part of the Amazon company, “We truly could not think of a more perfect partner for Goodreads as we both share a love of books and an appreciation for the authors who write them. We also both love to invent products and services that touch millions of people.”

The acquisition should close by July. Details such as whether Amazon will have access to information shared by Goodreads users or whether Goodreads recommendations will carry over to users' Amazon accounts have not yet been shared.

However, some are not happy about the decision, with industry newsletter Shelf Awareness writing that some Goodreads members, including those who own independent bookstores, left the website after the announcement was made.

“Too bad,” one commenter named Wendi wrote on the Goodreads site. “Another good independent thing bites the dust. Happy for you and the money you'll make off the cool thing you started; sad for me, and sad for the internet, which will soon be owned by Amazon and Facebook.”

Another commenter named Macartney wrote, “This is a big bummer. I understand you guys and your backers are looking to make money, but this has ripped the rug out from under everything I enjoyed about Goodreads. Amazon is undermining and destroying publishing as we know it. I don't want to participate with that kind of company.” 

However, some Goodreads users wrote that they looked forward to the change.

“I'm excited!” a user named Jennifer wrote. “I love Goodreads and I love my Kindle Fire. I would love to see my bookshelves [integrated] or some type of bookshelf via a Goodreads app that will work with the Kindle. Only downfall of the Kindle Fire via the Nook Color is not being able to organize my books.”

A user named Joanna agreed.

“Awesome news,” Joanna wrote. “Can't wait to see what kind of integration this will produce. Would be nice to be able to sync the books on my kindle with GR automatically.”

Others turned to Twitter to express their feelings on the change.

"Goodreads is basically one huge advertisement," a user named Justina Ireland (@tehawesomersace) tweeted. "If Amazon controls Goodreads, they control discovery."

Another user seemed pleased, with Nathan Bransford (@NathanBransford) tweeting, "Looking forward to seeing how @Amazon integrates @Goodreads into the Kindle/Kindle app. The first truly social book reading experience?"

Amazon already owns one website, Shelfari, that is similar to Goodreads, letting users share books with others, which Shelf Awareness wrote was “left to die on the Internet vine.”

In addition, a new website that lets users share recommendations is already out there – several of the major publishers launched Bookish in February. The site lets users organize an electronic “shelf” and write reviews for titles as well as allowing users to purchase books from various vendors, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Forbes writer Jeff Bercovici wrote that the timing of Amazon’s acquisition seemed a little too convenient so soon after the Bookish launch. 

“The similarities are sufficient that when Bookish launched in February, a Wired writer dubbed it 'the love child of Goodreads and Amazon,'” he wrote. 

Will Goodreads change now that it’s part of the Amazon company? Only time will tell.

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