Today I'm really happy to announce a new milestone for Goodreads: We are joining the Amazon family. 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.
I'm excited about this for three reasons:
1. With the reach and resources of Amazon, Goodreads can introduce more readers to our vibrant community of book lovers and create an even better experience for our members.
2. Our members have been asking us to bring the Goodreads experience to an e-reader for a long time. Now we're looking forward to bringing Goodreads to the most popular e-reader in the world, Kindle, and further reinventing what reading can be.
3. Amazon supports us continuing to grow our vision as an independent entity, under the Goodreads brand and with our unique culture.
It's important to be clear that Goodreads and the awesome team behind it are not going away. 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.
For all of you Kindle readers, there's obviously an extra bonus in this announcement. You've asked us for a long time to be able to integrate your Kindle and Goodreads experiences. Making that option a reality is one of our top priorities.
Laura Hazard-Owen at PaidContent highlights the likely changes that the acquisition could bring:
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.
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. 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).
Yeah, no kidding! One of the must-see panels on my list at any conference is Goodreads sharing data, whether that's for Tools of Change attendees or at RWA. It will be interesting to see how their participation at conferences like these changes in the coming years – if they attend at all.
What do you think of the acquisition? Are you surprised? Are you migrating to LibraryThing? (ETA: …which is in part owned by Amazon as well, per Vicki and Olivia below.)
ETA II: Electric Bugaloo:
Laura Hazard-Owen, who is like the Batman of book journalism, has an interview with Otis Chandler from GoodReads asking key questions about data and their intentions post-acquisition:
Will Amazon have access to all of the Goodreads users’ data?
OC: “Goodreads is or will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon, so on one level, yes. Are things going to happen in the background without customers understanding it? I think the answer to that is no….We’ll make it very easy for someone to say, ‘Yeah, I’d love it if you could import all of my Amazon or Kindle purchases into my Goodreads shelf.’ We’ll make it very easy for people to do, but they’ll be aware of what’s happening.”
Users already have the ability to export their data from Goodreads, and they’ll continue to be able to do so.
Will Amazon use Goodreads reviews on its own retail site, or will Amazon reader reviews migrate over to Goodreads? In general, how much content will cross between the sites?
OC: “We’re going to think about this in terms of what’s best for our members. Maybe if we find books that don’t have any Goodreads reviews we might consider that, but I don’t think there’s any specific plans to do that at this time.”