In the latest news on big business acquisitions and jostling, big international online retail bookstore, Amazon has looped in Goodreads, the social media website dedicated to book-lovers and reading. Although not the only book-related social media site online, Goodreads has a large, dedicated membership, and offers several unique features.
News that retail giant, Amazon.com, is acquiring international book club, Goodreads, took the world of book-lovers by storm. Glee co-mingled with dread at the possibilities created by the largest book seller subsuming and controlling the largest book-sharing service. The question remains: is this a good thing?
As an avid book-lover, today I do most of my reading on an electronic reader; that reader happens to be Amazon’s own Kindle ereader. I still have a large library of paper-based books at home, and I borrow more from the library, and buy and swap a small number of paper-based tomes. The number of physical brick-and-mortar bookstores available has diminished over the last few years. Amazon remains, even thrives in the book retail vacuum, because people are probably reading more these days than ever. Amazon arguably dominates the retail bookstore niche. Do they really need to own the book recommendation space, too?
What does Goodreads bring to the table?
That is what Goodreads provides: love and interest in reading meshed seamlessly with everyday living. People go to Goodreads to discuss what they have read, brag about what they are currently reading, and get suggestions on what to read next. This cycle depends on trust and honesty. Although free advertising is visible in that cycle, it continues to work because of an underlying understanding that the participants are mostly independent consumers rather than monetarily backed sellers. People are motivated by something unrelated to commercialization to connect, discuss, and ultimately, share their fervor for the great stories they have read. How well does that work?
According to Quantcast’s statistics on the company, Goodreads receives 22.8 million visits monthly from all over the world. The United States, alone, accounts for 11.0 million of that figure. Some similar services are LibraryThing, Shelfari, BookGlutton. While each of them offers something special to members at the intersection of book-reading and socializing, Goodreads gets the most traffic from US based Internet sevice providers. Speaking of Shelfari, it was acquired by the hungry Amazon beast just a few years ago in 2008. LibraryThing is also owned in part by Amazon.
Now, it’s not a surprise that a corporate giant wants to own everything even remotely related to its market. I wonder what they are planning to do with their acquisitions. Goodreads and Amazon have been publishing some happy news regarding the recent deal. In the lead is close integration of Amazon’s Kindle ereader with the Goodreads social features. The Kindle already allows sharing notes and ratings with Amazon and Facebook, though the execution is somewhat clumsy. Adding similar capabilities through Goodreads would broaden the fields of finding friends, sharing interests, and creating events.