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Hats Off to You, Bookish: Goodreads Acquisition Validates the Bookish Strategy

For the last few years, Bookish.com — the joint venture between S&S, Hachette, and Penguin — has seen a number of iterations and had its share of setbacks. Most articles — including this one — tend to lead with a description of all the difficulties Bookish has had, from CEO change-overs to more than a year in delays. Even fresh off its launch several weeks ago there’s a lot of discussion about what role Bookish.com fills in the ecosystem and whether or not it’s addressing a consumer need. When it was announced yesterday that Goodreads.com was being acquired by Amazon, one of Forbes’ headlines covering the announcement was Amazon Buys Goodreads. Take That, Bookish! As if it’s another string of bad luck in the Bookish saga.

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Interview with Goodreads CEO

In an interview Thursday, Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler and Amazon’s VP of Kindle content Russ Grandinetti stressed that Goodreads will not change for the worse following its acquisition by Amazon.

Full interview here.

LibraryThing Offers Free Accounts through this Sunday, March 31

In reaction to the recent purchase of Goodreads by Amazon.com, LibraryThing announced the following:

In the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads, we’ve had some blow-back on the fact that LibraryThing charges for a membership to add more than 200 books. In fact, when you go to pay, it’s pay-what-you-want. The money helps pay for the site, and keeps us advertisement-free for members. Also, we believe customers should be customers, with the loyalty and rights of customers, not the thing we sell to our real customers.

However, some people don’t like it. And we want everyone. So, as a test and a welcome, we’re giving out free year’s accounts to everyone who signs up through the end of Sunday. We’ve also upgraded everyone who signed up since 4pm yesterday.

More on their site.

They neglected to mention however that they too are part-owned by Amazon.com (40% due to previous small business purchases by Amazon). This was referenced in the NYTimes article about Amazon's purchase of Goodreads.

"The deal is made more significant because Amazon already owned part or all of Goodreads’ competitors, Shelfari and LibraryThing. It bought Shelfari in 2008. It also owns a portion of LibraryThing as a result of buying companies that already owned a stake in the site. Both are much smaller and have grown much more slowly than Goodreads."

Amazon.com to Acquire Goodreads

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar. 28, 2013-- 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 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.”

“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. -- Read More

Book publishers blast Amazon's plan to control domain names

Two industry groups argue that the retailer's plan to control several generic top-level domains, including .book, .author, and .read, would be anti-competitive.

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Swarming a Book Online

Fans bombarded Amazon with dozens of negative reviews of a new biography, got several favorable notices erased and even took credit for Amazon’s briefly removing the book from sale.

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Giving Mom’s Book Five Stars? Amazon May Cull Your Review

After several well-publicized cases involving writers buying or manipulating their reviews, Amazon is cracking down. Writers say thousands of reviews have been deleted from the shopping site in recent months.

Amazon has not said how many reviews it has killed, nor has it offered any public explanation. So its sweeping but hazy purge has generated an uproar about what it means to review in an era when everyone is an author and everyone is a reviewer.

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Kindle store now available at Amazon.ca

According to Teleread, Amazon Canada now has a Kindle store.

British Novelist Calls On American Mega-Companies to Help Save Britain's Libraries

From the Guardian:

A fiery Jeanette Winterson has called for the hundreds of millions of pounds of profit which Amazon, Starbucks and Google were last week accused of diverting from the UK to be used to save Britain's beleaguered public libraries.

In an impassioned speech at the British Library this evening, the award-winning author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit said: "Libraries cost about a billion a year to run right now. Make it two billion and charge Google, Amazon and Starbucks all that back tax on their profits here. Or if they want to go on paying fancy lawyers to legally avoid their moral duties, then perhaps those companies could do an Andrew Carnegie and build us new kinds of libraries for a new kind of future in a fairer and better world?"

Winterson was referring to the meeting at parliament's public accounts committee last Monday which saw executives from the three companies vigorously quizzed by MPs over their tax affairs, and accused of diverting UK profits to tax havens. Her lecture was to mark the 10th anniversary of the independent charity The Reading Agency, and was attended by fellow authors including David Nicholls, Julian Barnes, Joanna Trollope and Sarah Waters.

Amazon finds its books ain’t welcome at many bookstores

Earlier this year the two companies signed a licensing agreement whereby Amazon Publishing acquires, edits, markets and publicizes books that are then distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s sales force, according to Alexandra Woodworth, a publicist for Amazon/New Harvest. The partnership was an effort to woo bookstores into stocking Amazon-published books. But many booksellers are balking.

“Amazon has not been a very cooperative fellow bookseller in any fashion,” LaFramboise said. “They pretty much want nothing more than our demise.”

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