GoodreadsI admit my heart sank when I saw the news last night that Amazon had acqired Goodreads. Even though I’m a happy Amazon customer, I’m wary of big companies getting bigger.

When I woke up this morning, I started thinking it through, and I see several possibilities and implications.

Let’s take things one at a time.

1. Probable integration of Manage Your Kindle page and Goodreads

Goodreads founder Otis Chandler

I’d be shocked if this didn’t happen. It’s a logical move, and when Amazon bought Shelfari, this feature was added.

I see lots of people asking about this on various forums. Lots of readers use Goodreads to keep track of books they’ve read. Being able to import Amazon books will make that easier. We can also hope there will be some sort of integration between Kindles and Kindle apps. I’m pretty confident we’ll see all of this, and that’s a good thing for readers who want it.

2. Buy Now buttons

This is obviously one of the contentious issues. Right now the default Buy Now button links to Barnes & Noble. (By the way, B&N, you missed a huge opportunity here.) If you want to buy books from other sources, you select them from a drop-down menu. I expect the default will become Amazon, but I think the other sources will remain. Why? See my next point.

3. Data Mining

Even more than where we buy books, this is where people will end up loving or hating this sale.

Amazon wants data. They want a lot of data. They already have plenty of data from their own site, but I’m guessing they want data from other places. If you buy a book from Amazon, they know it and can make recommendations based on it. If you buy a book from B&N or elsewhere, they don’t know about it. I’m thinking they want to gather as much information as possible, so I think there will still be links to other sites. It allows Amazon to continue to gather data on what people buy and like. That allows them to further refine their recommendations.

Is this good or bad? It depends on how closely you want to guard the information on what you read. If data mining from Amazon isn’t a concern, this may be good because it will enhance Amazon’s recommendations. If you don’t want Amazon mining your data, then you will probably hate this.

Me? I’m not worried about it personally. I accepted a long time ago that the convenience of the Internet seriously infringes on my privacy. I like the convenience, so I tolerate the invasion.

4. Reviews

Another love/hate issue. As I browsed the comments on the announcement on Goodreads, I saw a definite split on this one. Some users are hopeful that they will be able to avoid writing reviews in both places. If your Amazon and Goodreads accounts are linked, reviews on one should appear on the other. That’s a time saver.

On the other hand, there was all the talk last year about Amazon removing reviews by other authors. Many authors started reviewing books on Goodreads because of this policy. If Amazon enforces the same policy on Goodreads, that will understandably anger many authors who rely on Goodreads as a forum to promote both themselves and others.

And by the way, Amazon is enforcing this policy with extreme inconsistency. I’m an author. I have an Amazon Author Page. As far as I can tell, all my book reviews are still present. Go figure.

Do I have a conclusion? Not yet. It’s too soon to tell. The deal won’t be final until the end of the second quarter of this year, so we still have several months before we’ll see anything. My recommendation is stick with the site and see what happens. There’s plenty of time later to close down your account if you don’t like what you see.


  1. As an author, I would love it if reader reviews cross-posted automatically between GoodReads and Amazon. Some reviewers manually post both places, but most don’t. As a reader and ebook evangelist (I’m on my 5th Kindle), I would love it if Amazon used this acquisition as a way to provide real ebook library management for Kindle users, where I could create my collections on the web and have the books I download automatically get all relevant collections/labels applied to them when I sync. Right now it’s Kindle-specific, which is a royal pain!

    At least I can hope that’s what will happen.

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