Dispatches from the Digital Revolution
A day after I drooled with admiration over the mission of social book reading site Goodreads and their not-as-sketchy-as-Amazon’s book reviews, Amazon swept in and bought them. Cue the speculation, lamentation, and overall discussion among bloggers and news sites on why and how this happened, a couple of which I will highlight below. But if you have one takeaway from Amazon’s business decision, it’s summed up nicely by David Vinjamuri at Forbes:
Acquiring Goodreads was an obvious strategic move for Amazon, so there is no compelling reason to over-think Amazon’s motives.
Which, of course, everyone proceeds to do. On a Washington Post blog titled “Why Amazon bought Goodreads,” the blogger features all sorts of charts and graphs of readership data from Codex (see left), plus a lot of talk about that pesky and elusive “Word of Mouth (WOM)” thing that propels people to buy books, all while peppering in token buzzwords like “social” and “community.” He brings up an archaic notion that Kindle tried too hard to mimic real books, but then speculates on how Amazon will integrate Goodreads with the Kindle reading experience. I agree that it will be an interesting development to watch.
Over at The Atlantic in “The Simple Reason Why Goodreads Is So Valuable to Amazon,” there was more talk about WOM and the acquisition of the site’s 16 million members (well, he actually calls us “book nerds”). Though not a relatively impressive number of users to acquire for $150 million, they are the MOUTHS in the WOM equation: a “big cache of trustworthy opinions.” This small group, who buy most of the books in this country, is their cash cow.
In the end, Vinjamuri’s quote still stands. No need to over-think it. The only question I have is, will Amazon leave Goodreads as a standalone site? Will users notice the difference? How will they react?
Here’s my question to fellow Goodreads members: Will this affect your use of the site?