Big Coup for Kindle: Amazon to Acquire Goodreads

Chandler

Why is this young man smiling? Read on…

News just hit my inbox that Amazon has reached an agreement to acquire Goodreads, the 16-million-member book lovers’ site founded by Los Angeles Times scion Otis Chandler. This is a very big story, because it portends dramatic improvements in our ability to share book recommendations and discover great things to read on our Kindles.

I will admit that Goodreads and similar sites have baffled me when I’ve checked them out. Reading is a solitary activity for me, except for sharing a few book ideas with very close friends. But Goodreads has grown like crazy, so there is clearly something to it. Today’s press release notes that “Over just the past 90 days, Goodreads members have added more than four books per second to the ‘want to read’ shelves on Goodreads.”

I’ve known that the Amazon team has had its eye on social reading for a long time, experimenting quietly with tools for sharing notes and annotations at kindle.amazon.com . And recently they beefed up Shelfari, which will probably get folded into Goodreads.

I hope Chandler will be a featured star at Amazon’s booth at the upcoming BookExpo America in New York City May 30th through June 1st. I will be there, eager to hear what’s ahead as a result of this bold acquisition. The press release said the deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, and terms were not disclosed.

Chandler is a grandson of the last family owner of The Los Angeles Times. He founded Goodreads in 2006 with the woman he later married, Elizabeth Khuri Chandler. They met after graduating from Stanford, according to this profile last month in The New York Times.

Hugh Howey, the author of WOOL, has this good quote in the release: “I just found out my two favorite people are getting married. 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.”

Amazon’s vice president for Kindle Content, Russ Grandinetti, is quoted as saying, “Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading.” And he made this prediction that, knowing how steadily the Kindle platform has been improved in the past six-plus years, is surely more than idle press-release verbiage: “Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”

So what do you think? If you are an active Goodreads user, how have you benefited from participating in the site? What advice would you have for Grandinetti and Chandler on how to make the most out of this acquisition? Please leave your comments below. And stay tuned!

UPDATE: Click here for Otis Chandler’s lengthy and enthusiastic statement about the acquisition.

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Comments 5

  1. Adam Shields wrote:

    Love Amazon, Love goodreads, but not all that happy about this. I am sure that Amazon will try some integration. But if shelfari is an example then Amazon also may kill the site.

    What I like about Goodreads is that it is a community of readers. Amazon provides those books that I read. But potentially Amazon is going to just datamine and work on selling me more books.

    I already buy pretty much everything from Amazon, I want a space that I can talk about books without a retailer looking over my shoulder.

    Posted 28 Mar 2013 at 6:27 pm
  2. Len Edgerly wrote:

    This is an understandable concern. It seems as if Zappos was left fairly autonomous, so perhaps that will be the model for Goodreads. Chandler has more stature than whoever ran Shelfari, and I assume he will fiercely protect the integrity of his creation. I’m hopeful that good will come of this and that Amazon will know what trip wires to avoid in handling this golden opportunity.

    Posted 28 Mar 2013 at 6:46 pm
  3. Chris Westergaard wrote:

    For me as a Kindle reader, Goodreads was always a little too hard to use. I’d already clicked to buy my book on Amazon, then I had to figure out the correct version to add to my shelf, then figure out how to show progress if there weren’t page numbers enabled, etc.
    I’m looking forward to a more integrated product, it will hopefully get me more involved, and allow me to better discover new things to read.

    Posted 28 Mar 2013 at 6:52 pm
  4. Len Edgerly wrote:

    That helps me understand the potential of this pairing. Thanks, Chris!

    Posted 28 Mar 2013 at 6:59 pm
  5. Mary wrote:

    I’ve been a Goodreads user since 2007. It’s where I catalogue my books and a place to talk books. Like Adam, I’m not sure this is a good move for the users. GR has always been a neutral place (retailer-wise) so I never felt I was being sold. Even after ads were introduced to the site – I could ignore those.
    My twitter feed blew up when the announcement hit the news. Very polarized opinions on the acquisition.
    I’ll hope for the best.
    PS Kindle user since 2009

    Posted 29 Mar 2013 at 3:36 pm