by Steve Laube
The big news late last week is that Amazon.com has purchased Goodreads.com. If you happened to read some of the panicked and outraged fans of Goodreads the news was yet another signal that Amazon is an evil empire.
Some are seeing this purchase as the harbinger of a bookocalypse or worse. It is as if everyone is waiting for Amazon to reset the sales rankings of every book to 666, thereby confirming their greatest fears.
Goodreads has served as a massive online bookclub. It creates word-of-mouth recommendations and promotes the joy of reading in community. I know a number of people who rely heavily on Goodreads to discover their next book to read.
From a business perspective Amazon has made a brilliant purchase that cost only a reported 150 million dollars. If they take a “do no harm” approach to ownership and simply funnel readers into their store for purchases they will earn their investment in no time at all. Amazon has done this type of purchase before with Zappos, the online shoe store. Read founder Tony Hsieh’ book, Delivering Happiness, and you’ll see where he sees Amazon’s purchase as the best thing that happened to his company, a purchase that allowed them to grow exponentially.
At the very least Amazon will integrate Shelfari.com, which they already own, into Goodreads and merge the best of both reader services.
“Discoverablity” is buzz word in the industry. In other words, how do readers “discover” new books when bookstores are struggling and online bookstore browsing is limited to screen space? Thus Goodreads is a critical player in discoverability for tens of thousands of readers. There are other options but none quite as large and diverse.
If you are a user of Goodreads let us know in the comments below how you use it and whether it helps you decide on new books or how you use it as an author.
Suffice it to say, this industry is in a constant state of flux. Keep reading our blog and other industry experts to help you stay informed!