Amazon Acquires Social Reading Site Goodreads

Today, Amazon has announced the acquisition of social reading service, Goodreads. Specific terms of the deal weren’t disclosed and it should close by the end of Q2.

Amazon.com has announced that it is buying book lovers social network Goodreads in a move that could give Kindle tablets an edge over rival e-readers. Photo: Goodreads Inc

Amazon has announced that it is buying book lovers social network Goodreads in a move that could give Kindle tablets an edge over rival electronic readers.

Goodreads is the leading website for sharing book recommendations and would complement reader reviews provided at Amazon.com’s online shop for digital titles.

“We’re looking forward to inspiring greater literary discussion and helping more readers find great books, whether they read in print or digitally,” Goodreads CEO and co-founder Otis Chandler said in a statement earlier today.

“Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books,” said Amazon vice president Russ Grandinetti.

“Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”

The two sites aren’t mirror images of each other. In particular, as Laura Hazard Owen explainsAmazon and Goodreads make recommendations based on something called “collaborative filtering,” which factors in a user’s past activity and the behavior of similar users.

Lacking Amazon’s servers full of data, Bookish — which is backed by Penguin, Hachette and Simon & Schuster — bases its recommendations more on content analysis. Bookish also lacks Goodreads’ social layer.

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

This type of social integration could give Amazon a major advantage over e-sellers like Apple, who have no social components to their product whatsoever.

Obviously, Amazon would rather not send potential book buyers to its competitors. But with a new anti-trust lawsuit accusing it (and the six biggest publishers) of wielding too much control over the e-book market, this isn’t the time to be seen as acting like a monopoly.

With people actually discussing and sharing the books that they’re into, having an Amazon direct connect makes complete sense. The site can offer special deals to Goodreads users, which in essence is now Amazon’s book-reading social network.

Synching a vibrant online community of readers with Kindle tablets and Amazon’s content promised to strengthen the company’s position against e-book shops run by rivals such as Apple and Google.

In a blog post announcing the sale, Goodreads founder Otis Chandler suggested nothing is going to change, at least immediately: “Amazon supports us continuing to grow our vision as an independent entity, under the Goodreads brand and with our unique culture.”

Goodreads had raised $2.75 million in funding from the likes of True Ventures since launching in January 2007.

According to Tech Crunch, last August, the site had over 10 million members and had catalogued more than 360 million books, adding 22 million each month. Now, the site boasts over 16 million users.

Following the merger Goodreads will keep its headquarters in San Francisco, while Amazon will remain based in Seattle. However, financial details of the deal remain a mystery.

“It’s important to be clear that Goodreads and the awesome team behind it are not going away,” co-founder Otis Chandler said in a message posted at the Goodreads website.

“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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