Friday, March 29, 2013
In case you missed it yesterday, Amazon acquired Goodreads, the popular book social networking site with over 16 million users (disclosure: link is to CNET, I work there. All opinions expressed here are my own).
When the news broke, quite a few people on Twitter remarked at how much it made sense. And it does: The number one e-bookseller just acquired the number one book social networking site.
But what does this mean for the future?
Amazon acquisitions seem to fall into two broad categories. There are some companies that Amazon buys but then pretty much leaves as-is (IMDB, Shelfari), and there are others that they then integrate closely into their main platform (CreateSpace, Zappos). Which type will Goodreads be?
At first glance, an Amazon/Goodreads partnership opens up some exciting possibilities. Amazon could draw upon your relationships on Goodreads to surface your friend's notes, reviews and progress within an e-book. You could update Goodreads and leave reviews from directly within the Kindle and Kindle apps. Goodreads hinted at this in their announcement about the acquisition.
For the first time ever, books could be truly social.
Amazon could also surface Goodreads reviews on Amazon and add to one of their key value points, and fulfill e-books directly from Goodreads.
But I think the most important element for Amazon was simply to stave off a potential competitor by buying it. Goodreads has the size and critical mass of users to be a viable e-book vendor of its own, one that perhaps could have taken a chunk of Amazon's share. By simply acquiring it and leaving it as is, Amazon has already enhanced its competitive position.
In its announcement and in a subsequent interview, Goodreads pledged to stay an independent entity and for now even retain buy links to other vendors. For readers and users of Goodreads, I can't imagine that Amazon will destroy a still-growing site with such a passionate fan base.
And for publishers... well, it comes on the heels of Bookish going live, and clearly the social element of book reading is still a nut they're waiting to crack.
One thing's for certain: Amazon just got stronger.
What do you make of this acquisition?