Friday, March 29, 2013

Amazon BUYS Goodreads!?!

It was announced today that Goodreads, my favorite social network for readers, has been purchased by Amazon, a move that I thought would never happen. Honestly, actions taken by the two companies over the past few years led me to believe that Goodreads and Amazon were doing everything in their power to distance themselves from each other. In January 2012, Goodreads stopped accepting metadata from Amazon's API because they called Amazon's terms of use too restrictive, meaning that Goodreads users were responsible for providing all the background information about any book on the site. The layout of the book pages on Goodreads changed to prominently feature a link to Barnes and Noble's webstore rather than Amazon. Amazon stopped featuring Goodreads book reviews on their site at about the same time. Preface all that with the fact that since August 2008, Amazon has owned Shelfari, a direct competitor for Goodreads.

Needless to say, as a longtime user of Goodreads and an Amazon Prime customer, I am curious about what this means for my reading future. I don't know if I should be upset or excited. As anyone would expect, Amazon and Goodreads are celebrating this deal as a boon for their users/customers. Amazon's stock price went up today and just look at the cheery email I received this afternoon from my friends at Goodreads.

Today is a very big day for all of us at Goodreads. As you may have seen on our blog, we are joining the Amazon family.
We greatly appreciate all you do as a Goodreads Librarian so we wanted to reach out to you individually since you play an important role in our community.
You’ll be glad to know that this announcement is great news for our catalog. Amazon metadata will be returning to the site, and we will have an even more comprehensive record of self-published books, as well as more complete records of international books. We will continue to link to a variety of sites on our book pages, of course, including OCLC WorldCat for library data. All of your reviews and ratings will remain on Goodreads.
By joining the Amazon family, the Goodreads team will be able to invest more in the things that our members care about. We’ll also be working together on inventing new services for readers and authors. As part of this, we’ll be increasing the size of our team over time, and will be able to add lots of great new features that members and librarians will be excited about!
I can’t make this clear enough – we plan to continue growing Goodreads and investing in making it a great community for librarians, and everyone else.
We said in our blog post that our team gets out of bed every day motivated by the belief that the right book in the right hands can change the world. Now Goodreads can help make that happen in an even bigger and more meaningful way as part of the Amazon family.
Here’s to the next chapter!
Otis, Elizabeth, and the Goodreads Team

So everything is great, right? It certainly seems that way. And I certainly hope so. Honestly, I've put in too much time and effort to make my Goodreads account something that I can use to get great book recommendations and to monitor my reading progress to lose it now. This could result in a lot of positives for users of Goodreads. I'm kind of hoping that it will mean increased interactivity with Amazon's website. Since I've been reviewing books for a couple of years already, it would be great if the data that I've compiled in Goodreads would improve my shopping experience in Amazon. Amazon regularly attempts to improve the recommendations they make when I am shopping on their site. I can't help but believe that they could do a much a better job of recommending books for me if they knew all that I've read and recorded on Goodreads.

But enough about me. In every business deal like this, there are bound to be winners and losers. In this deal, Goodreads and Amazon both could make out like winners, but where does it leave Shelfari? Essentially, Amazon now owns two identical products that compete with each other. That's not going to last. Something is going to change. Does that mean that Shelfari and Goodreads will somehow merge into one site? I can't imagine how that would work. Does it mean that Amazon will sell Shelfari? That wouldn't make sense. Does it mean that Shelfari user accounts will migrate over to Goodreads? I don't know. That makes sense to me, but I don't work for Amazon, so I'm only guessing. Microsoft just migrated Messenger accounts to Skype and Hotmail accounts to, so it wouldn't be completely unheard of in this era.

Either way, it's going to be interesting. I'm wondering what will happen. I not going to say I'm worried, but it's going to take more than some cheery PR to put me at ease. I, like many others, will be watching and hoping for the best.

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