Amazon is buying the web’s largest online books community Goodreads, it was announced yesterday. Details of the purchase weren’t revealed, and there have been rampant speculations about the deal with Businessweek claiming it to be worth an insanely high value of $1 Billion. However, many other sources have reported that Amazon netted Goodreads for an unspecified mix of cash and stock worth, a much more realistic range, somewhere between $140 and $150 million.
In an announcement on Thursday afternoon on the Goodreads website, the small San Francisco startup’s founders gushed about the giant book retailer.
“We truly could not think of a more perfect partner for Goodreads as we both share a love of books and an appreciation for the authors who write them,” wrote the company’s co-founder, Otis Chandler. “We also both love to invent products and services that touch millions of people.”
“For all of you Kindle readers, there’s obviously an extra bonus in this announcement,” Chandler added. “You’ve asked us for a long time to be able to integrate your Kindle and Goodreads experiences. Making that option a reality is one of our top priorities.”
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With 16 million members, Goodreads had become the leading site for user-submitted book reviews and forums. Users can add books to their own lists, leave written reviews or give star ratings. Founded in 2007 by Elizabeth Chandler and her then-fiancé (now husband) Otis, the site was primarily funded through book-related advertising and publisher-sponsored pages and giveaways. He told the Stanford alumni magazine back in 2012 that Amazon had a fundamental role to play in its founding:
“I would hear about a book and put it on my Amazon Wish List… I thought that if I could share my wish lists with other people, that would be social and that would be valuable data.”
Goodreads will remain in San Francisco, according to Amazon.com, which has its headquarters in Seattle.
Synching a vibrant online community of readers with Kindle tablets and Amazon’s content promised to strengthen the company’s position against e-book shops run by rivals such as Apple & Google and new competition like Bookish.
The acquisition makes Amazon that much more powerful in the publishing world. On Wired, Marcus Wholsen explains how self-published authors’ success on Amazon cuts out traditional publishers — an indie success story driven by an even larger force. Forbes brings up how Goodreads and Amazon could pose a threat to e-commerce-book discovery site Bookish. TechCrunch recalls when Goodreads switched from Amazon to Ingram as the primary source of its book data because Amazon “came with many restrictions.”
However, Twitter is aflame with negative reactions to the takeover. Some took to the site’s discussion forums today to voice concern over Amazon’s access to their reviews. Others were angry that the site was getting back in bed with a company it had visibly distanced itself from little more than a year ago in a dispute over restrictions Amazon placed on Goodreads’ use of its book data.
What do you think about the deal? Will Amazon ruin GoodReads? Let us know in the comments!