Discuss: Amazon & Goodreads


For those of you who don’t know, Goodreads is a social networking site for the bibliophiles amongst us. The site allows users to chronicle their book collections and what they’re reading at the moment, and share that information with their friends. If they are so inclined, users can update their profile to let friends know which page they’re on in their current read. And when they’ve finished that book, they have the option of writing up a review of the book, however long or short they’d like.

I am a fan of Goodreads. I found the site about three years ago and have been an active member ever since. I keep track of the books I’m reading and where I am in those books, page-wise. I do leave reviews or brief comments when I’ve finished a book, and sometimes I even link to my book blog if I’ve reviewed the book there. Whenever I buy a new book, one of the first things I do with it is add it to my “shelves” on Goodreads. I like to think of it as my own little cataloguing system. It’s a way for me to keep track of all my physical books. Suffice it to say, Goodreads has been a part of my life for the past couple of years.

So, I was a bit surprised to hear the news when Amazon acquired Goodreads a couple of weeks ago. The reason for this acquisition is purely business-based. The industry model has changed so that word of mouth recommendations of books matters much more than those silly “if you liked x, then you will like y” recommendations that show up on Amazon when you buy a book. I’ve heard from many people that they are more likely to read a book recommended or reviewed by a friend (even a friend who is only online) than one reviewed by more traditional critics. It seems that Amazon is hoping to get an “in” with this new bookish online world that they haven’t yet been able to penetrate, in the hopes that they can up their sales as a result.

That makes sense to me. From an objective, business point of view, it makes sense. The question I still have is this: what will Amazon do to Goodreads? Will the site now be riddled with ads sponsored by Amazon? Will Amazon try to steer conversations already taking place in their favor? What impact will this business decision have on my Goodreads experience?

What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan