Well, Holy Crapmonkeys: Amazon has Acquired GoodReads

Goodreads LogoThere has been a great disturbance in the force: Amazon has acquired GoodReads for an undisclosed amount, but one I presume contains a looooooot of zeros. 

From Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler's blog post:

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.

ETA  of note: Amazon also owns Shelfari and Book Depository. And I confess to being skeptical that Goodreads will continue to develop and grow as an independent entity. 

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.”



Comments are Closed

  1. Chris Alexander says:

    I’m disappointed. I’m not sure this is a good thing. :/

  2. Olivia Waite says:

    Amazon also owns AbeBooks, for the record. I share the general sense of skepticism that this move will lead to improvements.

  3. Vicki says:

    For what it’s worth, AbeBooks, which is owned by Amazon, has a 40% share in LibraryThing.


  4. Kelly S. says:

    Well, this is rather disappointing.  I usually write reviews in Goodreads and my books are actually inventoried in LibraryThing.  I was going to port all of them over but now, I’ll wait and see.  Of course, I still have 1 more bookcase to catalog which may take me long enough that Amazon will have bought LibraryThing too before I’m done.

  5. Kelly S. says:

    Huh, I see by Vicki’s comment, Amazon already has a share of LibraryThing. poo.

  6. I make almost all my money on Amazon, but they are amassing so much power and influence I’m starting to get very nervous. I’ve yet to see a single company even with humble beginnings stay benevolent as they got huge—see Apple and Google as exhibits A & B—but Amazon hasn’t ever pretended to be anything but scrappy and ruthless as a competitor. I already feel like their secret algorithms weight Amazon Digital Services books heavier than other publishers, and now neutral Goodreads will be subject to their gerrymandering too.

    I guess I’m going to take solace in the idea that if Amazon does get all the power and screws up, readers will unite and revolt and something new will rise up. Maybe that threat alone will keep things balanced. Hope so.

  7. Liz says:

    This does not sound good.  Have you ever read the reviews on Amazon?  They’re awful.  You get all the fanboys and fangirls squeeing over books that shouldn’t have even been published.  Yeah, you may get those on goodreads too, but not to the extent that you do on Amazon.

  8. What with the Kindle app, Audible, Book Depo and now Goodreads, there is no part of my reading life that Amazon isn’t involved in. Concerns, I haz them. o_O

  9. LoriK says:

    Mr Chandler left of the 4th reason he’s really excited—-he’s now really rich. Call me cynical but I suspect that colors his view of the other 3.

  10. Antoinette says:

    I won’t migrate ..yet… I’ve been with GoodReads since ‘08 and have a lot of reading history stored there…and TO READS! But I will move over if they kill the experience.

  11. LG says:

    I tried LibraryThing a while back, and it couldn’t keep my interest. I’ve been using Goodreads for a few months now, and it’s caught on with me much more than LibraryThing ever did. I use GoodReads primarily for reviews, keeping track of books I want to read, and discovering new stuff (not necessarily through the recommendation engine). If any of that changes in ways I don’t like, I might stop using Goodreads, but I don’t know that I’d migrate over to LibraryThing. I’d probably just go back to doing what I used to do, which was solely recording reviews in my blog and keeping track of what I want with post-it notes (yeah, not the best method, but realistically I’ll probably never get around to most of what I want to read anyway).

  12. CMAlbert says:

    I just had to say, I love a story that uses the word crapmonkeys. Good job.

  13. CarrieS says:

    That’s no moon.  It’s a space station.

  14. Man, CarrieS, I’m missing the like button right now.

  15. Amanda says:

    I started writing reviews of books on goodreads because of my library’s adult winter reading program, then started tracking with them. While I write reviews for myself to remember why I did or didn’t like anything, I’ve had positive experience with publishing them on goodreads.  No one has made any nasty comments on my reviews.  I had such a positive experience on goodreads, that I started uploading some of my reviews to amazon.  That hasn’t been such a good experience.  It has brought out the trolls.  So, no, I’m not happy about losing the culture that just glosses over my reviews if someone doesn’t like them.  So, no, I’m not happy about having the trolls that haven’t discovered goodreads migrate over as well.

  16. My nook color has goodreads integration & I’ve really liked that app and how easy it to rate it from the nook. I have a feeling that feature will be going away soon. I’ve got to say too that if Amazon starts just exporting goodreads reviews to amazon or worse, exporting Amazon reviews to goodreads, I’ll be done with goodreads. I love goodreads, but I rarely find the amazon reviews helpful.

  17. shawny J says:

    I’m disappointed. I’ve only started using Goodreads in the last year, but I definitely give more credence to its reviews than any of the retailer websites. There will always be squeeing fans on any site, but the anonymous spam review trolls seem to appear less frequently at GR. Goodreads always seemed to me less about selling books and more about just enjoying them. I’ll be very sorry if that changes, or if it just becomes another vector to push Kindle publications that I can’t read on a Kobo.

  18. HMC says:

    Well, there goes Goodreads. Next it will be Facebook … then the world.

  19. Liz H. says:

    I will join the general chorus of “sounds like very bad, no good things on the way”.
    One thing that I would debate- many commenters above mentioned that goodreads has a fantastic environment, and their fear of amazon trolls invading; they may not have encountered them, but goodreads does have its own fair share of trolls and nasty fanpeople.

    I think it’s difficult to overstate exactly how important a source of data this is for Amazon. It’s the most massive source of who reads, owns, wants, and likes what books out there. But when people uploaded that information they didn’t intend it to be used for commercial purposes (unless there’s something in a GoodReads user agreement somewhere?), as it undoubtably will be by Amazon. Will GoodReads give users the option of closing off that information before Amazon takes it?

  20. Suz says:

    There goes the neighborhood.

    All these people who are so devoted to their 1.00 off book are either oblivious to what happens once a market is cornered and monopolized or they are willfully apathetic.  Either way, I don’t have a kindle app and I don’t want one.  I’m going to hang out and play wait and see, but I’m going to be looking for another place to land in the meantime.

  21. Lynda Jo Schuessler says:

    I have to agree with most of these comments. I love my kindle and buy many books from Amazon but this does say monopoly in so many ways.

  22. Beggar1015 says:

    I’m also not seeing the good in this. Amazon is becoming the WalMart of the bookworld; driving out the little mom and pop bookstores and controlling your reading pleasure/displeasure. I would rather have GoodReads to remain neutral ground for readers but when the almighty dollar comes around, everyone bows down.

    Hmmm. My password is “fact69”

  23. Castiron says:

    I wonder if we’ll still be seeing Goodreads reviews in the Google Play and Kobo ebookstores in six months….

  24. Milly says:

    Well, I guess Kobo will be removing the Goodreads links off their website now… kinda liked being able to scroll through reviews as I was looking at books.  I never really adopted the Amazon reading thing anyways as being in Canada we didn’t have access to Kindles easily at first and quite frankly I liked supporting a homegrown company.  Very interesting, though not surprising, as it makes sense for Amazon to be able to get access to all that reader data outside of their website especially for international readers – talk about a marketing goldmine on reader data.  I still won’t pay for e-books through Amazon because of their closed format – give me downloadable epub any day.  Having worked on the vendor side of things, I got another view of Amazon and I have to say they were harder to deal with than Wal-Mart so I’m jaded and not a fan.

  25. Kelly says:

    The owner of GoodReads, Otis Chandler of the L.A. Times Chandlers, certainly didn’t need the money, but he has a lot of venture capital investors who were looking for a return on their investment. In order for that to happen, GoodReads needed to bought by an Amazon or a Google—they were already too big for anyone else.

    I liked the fact that GoodReads was independent. Sure there are fake reviews, trolls, and fangirls, but now we’ll be worrying about how our book data is going to be used. I know I have my complete reading history over there and I will be removing it very soon…

  26. laj says:

    @CarrieS: LIKE

    I just deleted my Goodreads acct. 
    Amazon is becoming like that monster spirit in Spirited Away that consumes every attractive thing in it’s path.
    Greed. Scary.

  27. I liked it when Goodreads made the decision not to source all of its data from Amazon, but now this doesn’t make sense. With all the people who leave horrid reviews on Amazon on purpose, will Goodreads now become more biased? Not sure how this helps the author or readers find books, or if it’s simply a way for Amazon to track reading trends and information. Thanks for the heads up!

  28. Not happy about this either… Just came across this update, which addresses some of the questions in the comments: http://paidcontent.org/2013/03/28/first-do-no-harm-my-interview-with-amazon-and-goodreads-on-the-future-of-goodreads/

  29. Oh _man_, I have concerns about this big time.

    I’ve valued Goodreads not only because of the general decent quality of its reviews (I pay way, WAY more attention to Goodreads reviews than I do to Amazon, when I’m deciding whether to buy a book), but also specifically because up till now, it’s been neutral. It’s not been tied to any given vendor or any given ereader device.

    I’m a Goodreads librarian, and I’ve gotten the email that they’ve sent around to all the librarians that pretty much says what the press releases are saying—i.e., that they intend to keep all the ratings and reviews intact, that they will continue to link off to other retailers, that they will continue to maintain general neutrality. I’m _hoping_ that’s true. But I’m also remembering that this isn’t the first time Amazon’s bought a previously independent property that has pretty much fallen by the wayside.

    That property being Stanza. Y’all remember Stanza, yes? Independent reading app? I’m just sayin’, I haven’t seen ANY development on that thing in ages, either on the mobile app OR on the ancient desktop edition thereof.

    Now, I’m not going to go deleting my Goodreads account. As a newbie author just starting out building her audience, the site’s still too valuable a tool for me to disregard just because I’m cranky at the people who manage it.

    But as a reader, and specifically as a reader who does her electronic reading on things that _aren’t Kindles_…

    Yeah. I have _concerns_.

  30. Suz says:

    I encourage folks to download their Goodreads libraries before deleting accounts or moving off to other places.  You can download them to csv/ spreadsheet as well as upload.  I just looked at LibraryThing and it accepts spreadsheet uploads.  I haven’t compared or tried either so I can’t speak with authority on those things, but the functionality is there and I’m thinking backups wouldn’t be a bad thing anyway.

    As for deleting your GR content, I’m willing to lay odds that their backups will have all your data anyway so no sense cutting your nose off to spite your face. If they don’t change it you may wish you still had it later.

  31. Mad at BOTH Goodreads and Amazon.  They took a dump on something I thought was really great and cool.

  32. UlrikeDG says:

    I have a Goodreads account, but I haven’t updated it in years. I had a Shelfari account first, and I found that I wasn’t very good at keeping both up-to-date, so Shelfari won.

    I haven’t had any trouble with the Amazon affiliation on Shelfari. The initial transition was a little tough, because they wanted you to link your Amazon account, and my kids have Shelfari accounts but don’t have ones on Amazon. The link to log in without an Amazon account was (deliberately) a bit difficult to find.

    Beyond that, I haven’t noticed any negative consequences of their Amazon connection.

  33. Lostshadows says:

    I’m taking a wait and see approach for now.

    While I knew amazon has an interest in LT, I’ve never really noticed an effect on the site. I’m hoping this will be the case with GR too.

    Hmm… my captcha is choice81, seems appropriate for this discussion.

  34. Jennifer C says:

    So, I guess what this is saying that in the near future, Amazon is going to own the entire universe.

  35. library addict says:

    I am not on Goodreads. And though I do shop at Amazon, I don’t have a Kindle.

    It doesn’t really matter if there are no obvious changes at the Goodreads site. Amazon having all that reader data to mine is disturbing. Plus now they are a publisher, seller, and review owner. I don’t see this ending well.

    Amazon is in the position they are because of a combination of factors. Mainly they’ve been smart and ruthless while publishers and B&M stores buried their heads in the sand and cried la-la-la-la about digital reading. But any one entity having that much power is not a good thing. And you’ll never convince me their customers-who-bought-this feature doesn’t give more advantage to Montlake titles and Kindle-only books. It may make me a cranky old lady, but I feel the need to say get off my lawn. Humph!

  36. I’m concerned that Amazon will disable anyone listed as a Goodreads Author from posting reviews, just as they’ve banned authors from posting reviews at Amazon. I’m a fledgling author too (I sold my first novel and it’s coming out in August), and, while I can always post reviews at my own blog, I was enjoying that Goodreads let me broadcast them so people who didn’t know me, but might be interested in the kind of books I read, might see my name. If I can’t do that, the site will become a lot less attractive to me.

  37. Evaine says:

    I checked out Library Thing a little while ago and if I remember correctly, once your library gets past a certain size, you have to pay a monthly fee.  My book budget is tight enough as it is!  And I have all my books here in Goodreads – it was my first retirement project.  *LOL*  I did import some of them over to LT and it was an easy process – but then I hit my limit.  I don’t know if things have changed over there, though. 

    I just hate to see Amazon spread over more and more things.  :/

  38. azteclady says:

    This monopoly is one of the biggest obstacles to the spread of digital books.

    Like Library Addict, I buy a lot of things from amazon, but I refuse to get a Kindle or use a kindle app to read books. If it’s not available elsewhere or in print, I’m out of luck and the author loses a sale.

    Why? Because I own my physical books. Digital books can be—and have been in the past—deleted by amazon, unless you are computer savvy enough to do a number of contortions.

    And lets not even go into geographical restrictions or the ever lovely DRM (or whatever the acronym, I’m forever messing that up)

    A physical book, once it’s in your hand, posses no problems.

  39. Tarja says:

    Regarding a montly fee, that’s incorrect. You can add 200 books to your library on a free account and if you like the service, can buy either a yearly membership for $10 or a lifetime membership for $25, and after that can add as many books as you want.

    I’ve been using LT for many years now, and find it most useful for cataloguing my books. The reviews and other features are a plus.

  40. Ruth says:

    I agree this is concerning, but I’m not sure it’s the end if the world. Amazon is probably incentivized to buy not only for the rich reader data already in goodreads, but it’s ability to generate more in the future, and for it to be as valuable as possible, it would need to be as neutral or truthful as possible. Goodreads does have trolls, but the reviews and commentary have always struck me as more thoughtful than Amazon and there are usually more of them, and they’re also available prior to publication, so it’s probably a useful way for Amazon to track or predict the sales curve of a book.

    The loss of independence worries me, but if Amazon finds a way to get more books I might like into my hands, then as a reader I would value that. Of course, if they don’t then I’ll just take my reviews elsewhere.

Comments are closed.

By posting a comment, you consent to have your personally identifiable information collected and used in accordance with our privacy policy.

↑ Back to Top