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Amazon acquires book-based social network Goodreads

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Amazon (s AMZN) announced Thursday that it is acquiring Goodreads, the book-based social network founded by Otis Chandler in 2006. The purchase price was undisclosed, and the deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013. [Here’s our interview with Goodreads and Amazon about the acquisition.]

Goodreads, which is based in San Francisco and launched in 2007, has 16 million members. The site lets readers keep track of the books they’ve read and want to read; rate and review books; and discover reading recommendations. Following the acquisition, Goodreads will remain headquartered in San Francisco.

Goodreads has served as a fairly “neutral” hub for readers until now — a place where publishers and authors can market and promote their books without being tied to a specific retailer. Until 2012, Goodreads sourced all of its book data from Amazon, but it then decided that the company’s API had become too restrictive and switched its data provider to the book wholesaler Ingram. “Our goal is to be an open place for all readers to discover and buy books from all retailers, both online and offline,” Goodreads told me at the time of the switch. While being an “open place for all readers” may still be Goodreads’ goal, it’s now clearly tied to promoting books for sale on Amazon.

“I wanted to assure you that Goodreads and the team behind it are not going away. We have no plans to change the Goodreads experience and Goodreads will continue to be the wonderful community we all cherish,” Goodreads CEO Chandler wrote on the company’s blog. “Partnering with Amazon will help us focus on making Goodreads an even better place for readers.”

Goodreads is also likely to be less open with access to its data now that it has been acquired by Amazon. In the past, the company has shared information about how its readers discover and buy books and about their digital reading habits, presenting the data at conferences and in blog posts. This past February, for instance, CEO Chandler noted that ebook readers experiment with platforms — a significant percentage of Kindle users, for example, also buy ebooks from Apple’s iBookstore (s AAPL). All of this data is certainly useful for Amazon to have, but the retailer is not likely to see a reason for Goodreads to share the data with others (and with Amazon’s competitors).

Amazon acquired another reading site, Shelfari, in 2008.

This story was updated several times on Thursday afternoon.

Disclosure: Goodreads is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of GigaOM/paidContent.

15 Responses to “Amazon acquires book-based social network Goodreads”

  1. So, now Amazon has control over both Shelfari and Goodreads. I hope Goodreads will progress a great deal being a part of the Amazon network. I guess now we can expect, better performance, kindle integration and may be a few reading apps.

  2. Muddy Mudskipper

    For all of you complaining about this acquisition and claiming that you’re going to delete your Goodreads account, please explain why in simple terms. I’m a Goodreads user and find it quite useful. If Amazon deletes the links to other stores that would be somewhat annoying but not really a big deal. As for their access to the data, I’m not sure what they’re going to do with it that’s so nefarious. Please enlighten me. If you can spell out some risk or problem that convinces me, perhaps I’ll join you.

    • Rebecca

      I am a reader who will only read print books and I have a very strong preference for purchasing my books at a physical bookstore – the second choice, if I can’t get it there, would be an online store linked to a physical bookstore (like B& so I am still giving my money towards a physical bookstore. I do not like Amazon’s business practices because I feel they are trying to kill off something I love (physical bookstores) and they obviously have a preference for e-books and wish print would die off, while I can’t read e-books period, I absolutely hate them and can’t stand them.

      So given how strongly I feel about Amazon, I simply do not wish to have my reviews posted on a website owned by them. I used to review on Amazon before they came out with the Kindle and started selling a lot of e-books – I was quite highly ranked at one time, I have an old Amazon top reviewer baseball cap somewhere in my closet. I stopped posting new reviews there thanks to their views on bookstores and print vs e-book and one of these days I will delete the old ones there too. I may keep a Goodreads account for group purposes but I won’t have any reviews there.

  3. super excited to see this happen (to some extent I was not surprised.. this seemed more or less inevitable). This acquisition for once puts the social network around books into some limelight which should lead to more innovation in this space.

    excited to be working on an interesting solution @ Feel free to check it out and send us your suggestions

  4. Reblogged this on Everything Publishing and commented:
    So, Amazon has put its big metaphorical finger into another metaphorical pie. Personally, I’m not too sure I’m in favour of the move. I have always thought of Goodreads as being one of those sites where you could simply connect with other readers and book lovers and not really worry about anything as it was a ‘neutral’ place you could voice your literary opinions and discover. Really, it’s now just another platform in which Amazon can promote its books and scream at the site’s visitors: ‘Ooh, buy me! Pick me!’ (I already get enough of that through my emails!) Fair enough, but what about promoting books from Waterstones and W H Smiths? Bookshops are like precious gems which we need to preserve. It’s not that I have anything against Amazon (I use the retailer now and then just like any other person might), but sometimes I feel that as a consumer, things become can become clouded by the bigger companies out there and companies (such as Goodreads) can become lost as it’s swallowed up by another giant. Still, I guess this is a good thing for Goodreads overall though, right…?

  5. In 30 Minutes Guides

    Interesting that Amazon wasn’t able to bring Shelfari up to speed as fast as Goodreads. Will Shelfari be retired?

    As a publisher, I’m very interested in seeing what they do with author/publisher promotional tools, including blogs, pages, and giveaways.

    Ian Lamont
    Publisher, In 30 Minutesâ„¢ Guides