Amazon buys social network Goodreads and its growing ranks of 16M book lovers

goodreads11Amazon.com is purchasing the San Francisco book social network Goodreads for an undisclosed price, adding a new chapter in the Seattle retailer’s quest to get closer to its core customers: book lovers.

“Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon Vice President, Kindle Content, in a press release. “Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”

The Goodreads team will remain in San Francisco where the company was founded seven years ago.

For those who follow Amazon.com history, you may recall that this marks yet another acquisition of a book social network. In 2008, it gobbled up Seattle startup Shelfari, and with the purchase of Abebooks, received a stake in LibraryThing, a social network for book lovers that now has more than 1.6 million members. (We have an email into Amazon to see if they still have an ownership stake in LibraryThing).

Here’s the full blog post from the Goodreads team:

When Elizabeth and I started Goodreads from my living room seven years ago, we set out to create a better way for people to find and share books they love. It’s been a wild ride seeing how the company has grown and watching as more than 16 million readers from across the globe have joined Goodreads and connected over a passion for books.

Today I’m really happy to announce a new milestone for Goodreads: We are joining the Amazon family. 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. We also both love to invent products and services that touch millions of people.

I’m excited about this for three reasons:

1. With the reach and resources of Amazon, Goodreads can introduce more readers to our vibrant community of book lovers and create an even better experience for our members.
2. Our members have been asking us to bring the Goodreads experience to an e-reader for a long time. Now we’re looking forward to bringing Goodreads to the most popular e-reader in the world, Kindle, and further reinventing what reading can be.
3. Amazon supports us continuing to grow our vision as an independent entity, under the Goodreads brand and with our unique culture.

It’s important to be clear that Goodreads and the awesome team behind it are not going away. Goodreads will continue to be the wonderful community that we all cherish. We plan to continue offering you everything that you love about the site—the ability to track what you read, discover great books, discuss and share them with fellow book lovers, and connect directly with your favorite authors—and your reviews and ratings will remain here on Goodreads. And it’s incredibly important to us that we remain a home for all types of readers, no matter if you read on paper, audio, digitally, from scrolls, or even stone tablets.

For all of you Kindle readers, there’s obviously an extra bonus in this announcement. 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.

Our team gets out of bed every day motivated by the belief that the right book in the right hands can change the world. Now Goodreads can help make that happen in an even bigger and more meaningful way thanks to joining the Amazon family. (And if you want to be part of this, please check out our Jobs page for open positions. We’ve got a lot of hires to make!)

This is an emotional day for me. Goodreads is more than a company to me – it’s something that Elizabeth and I created because we wanted it to exist. Since then it has grown a lot and become a place we love working at, full of incredibly smart and passionate people who also believe in our mission. I feel a little like a college graduate – happy to come to this milestone, nostalgic for the past amazing seven years, and incredibly, incredibly, excited for the future.

Otis

P.S. For the more official version of the announcement, here’s the press release that went out today.

P.P.S. Please let us know – what integration with Kindle would you love to see the most?

Here’s the full press release.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Goodreads, a leading site for readers and book recommendations that helps people find and share books they love.

“Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon Vice President, Kindle Content. “Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazonand Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”

“Books – and the stories and ideas captured inside them – are part of our social fabric,” said Otis Chandler, Goodreads CEO and co-founder. “People love to talk about ideas and share their passion for the stories they read. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to partner with Amazon and Kindle. We’re now going to be able to move faster in bringing the Goodreads experience to millions of readers around the world. We’re looking forward to inspiring greater literary discussion and helping more readers find great books, whether they read in print or digitally.”

“I just found out my two favorite people are getting married,” said Hugh Howey, best-selling author of WOOL. “The best place to discuss books is joining up with the best place to buy books – To Be Read piles everywhere must be groaning in anticipation.”

Following the acquisition, Goodreads’s headquarters will remain in San Francisco, CA. Founded in 2007, Goodreads now has more than 16 million members and there are more than 30,000 books clubs on the Goodreads site. Over just the past 90 days, Goodreads members have added more than four books per second to the “want to read” shelves on Goodreads.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.

  • evanjacobs

    This is an interesting move. Some people have compared the acquisition of Goodreads to that of IMDb but that analogy isn’t very good. Goodreads doesn’t have more catalog data about books than Amazon already does. They have plenty of customer reviews but so does Amazon. They certainly have better forums and other tools for readers to talk about books so that’s a win.

    However, I think this acquisition has more to do with eliminating the threat of Goodreads becoming an e-book retailer than with Amazon seizing an opportunity to become more social. Social is Amazon’s one achilles heel and it exists because Jeff either doesn’t understand it (unlikely) or he doesn’t think it’s very important (note that Jeff has no personal blog and has zero presence on FB, Twitter, or even Amazon’s own social book service at kindle.amazon.com).

    It’s hard to imagine Goodreads becoming a better service as a result of this acquisition even if they are mostly left alone by Amazon.

  • Tom Chandler

    More than a few of us — who were happy to contribute reviews to Goodreads because we used the reviews of others to help us buy/not buy books — aren’t going to contribute now that it’s owned by Amazon.

    I don’t know how many of Goodread’s 16 million members are active or how many will leave (probably not enough to truly affect it), but I do know the comments (32 pages last I checked) under the Goodreads announcement were overwhelmingly negative (I’d guess 3-1 or 4-1).