Amazon Acquires Goodreads

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Logo treatment by Todd Goldstein.

Related: DBW Q&A With Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler | Goodreads Users React

When it comes to which website’s pages come up first upon searching Google for a book, Amazon and Goodreads vie for dominance. Now, the former has bought out the competition.

Amazon.com has entered into an agreement to acquire Goodreads. The leading ebook-seller is now the owner of the leading books-focused social network. Goodreads had over 12 million users as of late 2012 and, according to a statement from Amazon, has over 16 million today.

This is not Amazon’s first foray into books-focused social networking. The company acquired Shelfari in 2009.

“Brilliant move by Amazon,” said Mark Coker, an outspoken digital publishing commenter and founder and CEO of Smashwords, one of the the largest distributors of self-published ebooks. “Amazon just locked up discovery for the next couple years.”

“Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike,” said Amazon vice president of Kindle content Russ Grandinetti in a statement.

goodreads and amazonGoodreads CEO Otis Chandler announced the move on the Goodreads blog, spelling out why he’s excited:

1. Expanding the reach of Goodreads with Amazon’s resources.

2. Bringing the Goodreads experience to an e-reader, a frequent request of members, according to Chandler.

3. Amazon will allow Goodreads to continue to operate independently.

For those fearful of a match between the world’s largest seller of ebooks and its largest books-focused social network, Chandler wrote, “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.”

For Kindle readers, he added that there’s an “extra bonus” in that it will now be a “top priority” for Goodreads to integrate with Kindle.

“With this acquisition, there’s now no significant single presence other than Amazon to find out what people think about books,” said Thad McIlroy, a Vancouver-based publishing consultant. “Out of all the commenting about books, Goodreads was the most powerful ecosystem for recommending what you read next and Amazon was a close second. Now it’s just Amazon.”

For Barnes & Noble, which doesn’t rank nearly as highly as Amazon or Goodreads in search or in the online book game, this acquisition by its toughest competitor could be another nail in the coffin, according to McIlroy.

“With the collapse of the Nook they’ve lost the online game and we just have to count out the final steps,” he said.

One question Goodreads users, publishers and maybe Barnes & Noble most of all will ask is, will Goodreads continue to link to other booksellers on its book pages? Currently, Barnes & Noble is most prominently featured, with its own dedicated button. “Online stores” provides a drop-down selection of stores, including Amazon (see below).

Neither Amazon nor Goodreads has yet responded to request for comment. In an interview with paidContent, when asked specifically about the Barnes & Noble buy buttons, Chandler said, “It’s incredibly important to us that Goodreads remain a platform for all kinds of readers to use, whether they’re reading paper or on their Nook or Kindle or whatever. We always want Goodreads to be a place for people to share and talk about books…As for specific design of [the links], we’ll see, but we really think about it from the user perspective. If users really want those links [to other retailers], then those links will probably still be there.”

While Chandler didn’t rule out a major change here, he seemed to indicate that things will largely remain the same for its users for now when it comes to buy buttons.

goodreads buy button

Founded seven years ago in Chandler’s living room, Goodreads has started to scale impressively. It had about 6 million users at the end of 2011, 12 million at the end of 2012 and has 16 million today.

The company was initially funded with an angel round in 2007, followed by a $2 million series A round of funding in 2009, led by Palo Alto, Calif.-based venture-capital firm True Ventures. Terms of the Amazon acquisition were not disclosed; it is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.

There had been speculation late last year and earlier this year that Goodreads was intending to pivot from being purely a social network to also selling books. Recently, another large books-focused social network, The Reading Room, launched an ebook-selling business. The Reading Room is much smaller than Goodreads, however.

“They were on the verge of opening a bookstore – they were hiring people, talking to people…so Amazon takes it [Goodreads] off the table,” said publishing consultant and DBW partner Mike Shatzkin. “It’s a really smart acquisition by Amazon and it goes to show that the competition missed a chance.”

As for the future of Goodreads, the CEO Chandler mentioned in his blog post that Amazon will continue to let Goodreads operate independently, that Kindle integration was a “top priority” and that the company has “a lot of hires to make.” According to his interview with paidContent, Chandler will stay on as CEO, reporting to Amazon’s Grandinetti.

Related: DBW Q&A With Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler Goodreads Users React

[Press Release]

Amazon.com to Acquire Goodreads

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Goodreads, a leading site for readers and book recommendations that helps people find and share books they love.

“Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon Vice President, Kindle Content. “Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”

“Books – and the stories and ideas captured inside them – are part of our social fabric,” said Otis Chandler, Goodreads CEO and co-founder. “People love to talk about ideas and share their passion for the stories they read. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to partner with Amazon and Kindle. We’re now going to be able to move faster in bringing the Goodreads experience to millions of readers around the world. We’re looking forward to inspiring greater literary discussion and helping more readers find great books, whether they read in print or digitally.”

“I just found out my two favorite people are getting married,” said Hugh Howey, best-selling author of WOOL. “The best place to discuss books is joining up with the best place to buy books – To Be Read piles everywhere must be groaning in anticipation.”

Following the acquisition, Goodreads’s headquarters will remain in San Francisco, CA. Founded in 2007, Goodreads now has more than 16 million members and there are more than 30,000 books clubs on the Goodreads site. Over just the past 90 days, Goodreads members have added more than four books per second to the “want to read” shelves on Goodreads.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.

About Amazon.com

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth’s Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as Books; Movies, Music & Games; Digital Downloads; Electronics & Computers; Home & Garden; Toys, Kids & Baby; Grocery; Apparel, Shoes & Jewelry; Health & Beauty; Sports & Outdoors; and Tools, Auto & Industrial. Amazon Web Services provides Amazon’s developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon’s own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. Kindle Paperwhite is the most-advanced e-reader ever constructed with 62% more pixels and 25% increased contrast, a patented built-in front light for reading in all lighting conditions, extra-long battery life, and a thin and light design. The new latest generation Kindle, the lightest and smallest Kindle, now features new, improved fonts and faster page turns. Kindle Fire HD features a stunning custom high-definition display, exclusive Dolby audio with dual stereo speakers, high-end, laptop-grade Wi-Fi with dual-band support, dual-antennas and MIMO for faster streaming and downloads, enough storage for HD content, and the latest generation processor and graphics engine—and it is available in two display sizes—7” and 8.9”. The large-screen Kindle Fire HD is also available with 4G wireless, and comes with a groundbreaking $49.99 introductory 4G LTE data package. The all-new Kindle Fire features a 20% faster processor, 40% faster performance, twice the memory, and longer battery life.

Amazon and its affiliates operate websites, including www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.co.jp, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.ca, www.amazon.cn, www.amazon.it, www.amazon.es and www.amazon.com.br. As used herein, “Amazon.com,” “we,” “our” and similar terms include Amazon.com, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.

About Goodreads

Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Founded in 2007, Goodreads is where readers find and share books they love. The site has 16 million members who have added more than 530 million books to their shelves and written more than 23 million reviews. Loved by avid and casual readers alike, Goodreads members can discover new books by seeing what their friends are reading or by using the Goodreads Book Recommendation Engine; share ratings and recommendations; track what they have read, and list what they want to read. Goodreads is also a place where more than 68,000 authors connect with readers. For more information, visit http://www.goodreads.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management’s expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment and data center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com’s financial results is included in Amazon.com’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.

Jeremy Greenfield

About Jeremy Greenfield

Jeremy Greenfield is the editorial director of Digital Book World. Opinions presented here are his own. Read more of his work here.

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9 thoughts on “Amazon Acquires Goodreads

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  3. Great article. I have to believe Amazon will place its own link where the B&N link currently is. In fact, Goodreads having had a single vendor link so prominently displayed all this time works to Amazon’s advantage, because now they can put their link there without seeming like they’re changing the site dramatically to favor themselves. They then could bury the B&N link somewhere in the laundry list to the right (which I think they’ll likely keep, at least for now).

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