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    © 2014, Joseph B. Wikert
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« Inspired by children's ebooks | Main | Current state of formats and platforms »

April 01, 2013


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Tom Semple

Shelfari content is used as one of the sources for Kindle's XRRay feature (the other being Wikipedia), and the 'Book Extras' section in Kindle Store book descriptions. I think Book Extras actually predated XRay so this has been in place for awhile. is one of the few domains you can browse for free on newer 3G-enabled Kindles (Kindle Touch and Paperwhite), and in theory you can edit information there on the Kindle (in practice, the Kindle web browser will try the patience of most people).

Google Books, Kobo books, and Sony ebookstore all link to Goodreads to include these in their store reviews. Amazon has stated they have 'no plans' to remove the API (no doubt contractual obligations help enforce this). But Google/Kobo/Sony have to be reconsidering this in light of the acquisition. At the same time, Amazon should be careful to avoid over-doing things on Goodreads with overtures to join the Kindleverse.


Interesting observations. I Identify with how you use Goodreads. I've yet to see anything of interest in "recommendations". I used to find Amazon's recommendations were good most of the time but I find it quite difficult to discover material to read on Kindle -- too much chaff gets in the way. I love how easy it is to purchase on the Kindle though. This weekend, miles from civilisation, I was able to download and read both the LRB and the NYT review of book.


Joe -- you bring up some very good points. Time will tell what happens to Goodreads. I tend to think Amazon will do subtle changes and try to not ruin the experience. Thing about all the data on readers they have purchased? They will be able to exploit the thousands of followers to specific authors.

But I am also of the belief that over time Goodreads will be less important for discovery. There will be other networks independent of Amazon that will rise to help market and sell books.


L Lefevere

Nice POV, Joe. I have similar feelings about this acquisition. Speaking as a user and not necessarily as a publishing professional, the thing that has me feeling most apprehensive is the rating system. I trust the customer ratings information more on Goodreads than I do on Amazon. There aren't vine reviews. There aren't marketplace reviews (one star for slow shipping). There aren't badges for top reviewers. It just feels more accurate and organic, and I don't want that to change.

That said, I totally agree that an acquisition was going to happen sooner or later.

Karen Robbins

I'm not a sci-fi writer but as a novelist, I often think in terms of what-ifs. When I heard of Amazon's acquisition of Goodreads my mind took off not so much in terms of what this would do to revenue but of the growing influence Amazon has on the public's reading choices. 1984 was required reading when I was in high school. I think it gave me a suspicious mind.


Regarding the question, "Does publisher X really want to see publisher Y's ebooks promoted in their products?" The answer is probably Yes if publisher X gets a cut of the sales. The Amazon Associates program could be adapted for this purpose; it's an affiliate program that pays web sites (at a notoriously low CPM) for purchases made by people who click from the web site to Amazon. We once had a person who clicked a book link on our web site and ended up buying a $4,300 toilet. Joe, you've really hit on something here: Amazon doesn't need to change Goodreads, which could make Goooreads less popular. Amazon can derive value from Goodreads from using its data to recommend additional purchases. One thing that will change is B&N's favored status for "Get a copy:"

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