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Amazon buys Goodreads
March 28, 2013 6:42 PM   Subscribe

The social book site Goodreads has been acquired by Amazon. Many members are upset and uncertain what this means for site which has relied on members to do the work of building and maintaining their database. Amazon already owns Shelfari and has a 40% stake in LibraryThing, two competing sites.
posted by bongo_x (116 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
Goddammit.

Even if they go out of their way to preserve the site culture, they'll only be doing it to mine all that juicy social media data.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:55 PM on March 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


Ugh, I had no idea Amazon owned so much of LT. I have to start linking to WorldCat or something as my canonical book source.
posted by DU at 6:56 PM on March 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


dang, and I just found it!

Now I'm going to have to go and create 10 different personas and rate books I've never read, just to mess with their data.
posted by jb at 6:56 PM on March 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wow. Very curious to know the $ details, hope a ballpark figure drips out somewhere.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:57 PM on March 28, 2013


Why would anyone buy a site called Goo Dreads? It sounds like a niche fetish site, if you ask me. Amazon have really shot themselves in the foot this time.
posted by Nomyte at 7:00 PM on March 28, 2013 [39 favorites]


I'm a little creeped out by the phrasing of the announcement, "we're joining the Amazon family!" That's some seriously icky marketroid bought-and-paid-for PR-speak right there. It's a goddamn corporate acquisition by a pretty stone-cold corporation, not being welcomed into the Buffy gang or adopted by Robert Reed and Florence Henderson.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:01 PM on March 28, 2013 [23 favorites]


New entry in that tumbler about startups bought by the majors in 3... 2... 1...
posted by localroger at 7:02 PM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Amazon has become the Wal-Mart of online sales. Without the social conscience.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:02 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


[this is bad][this might be offensive]

After what Amazon did to Stanza (the only iOS epub reader that didn't suck) after buying it -- killed it by willful neglect because it competed with their own inhouse offerings -- well, if I were a Goodreads user, I'd be leery about the future. I know it's a horse of a different color and all, but.

The good news is that there's finally, just in the last few months, a worthy and possibly-even-better Stanza successor (for iPad only at this stage) called Marvin. I wrote a bit about it here. It is developed by one guy, and is great.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:02 PM on March 28, 2013 [31 favorites]


Companies who bought ... also bought ...

Goodreads was one of the few social sites I didn't hate yet, maybe because it didn't harass me. Still it always seemed too staid. Maybe something better will come along.

Oddly, though, I recently pulled all my books and ratings out and built my own little app for my own use with it (socially GR never did much for me; it was just a convenient way to track my reading).

Tired of feeling like a chump giving all my data away to all these smug future millionaires.
posted by seemoreglass at 7:03 PM on March 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


they'll only be doing it to mine all that juicy social media data

Just imagine what would happen if Amazon got into Google's line of work, matching years of customers' aggregated buying habits and review data with advertisers looking to intelligently place ad dollars...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:03 PM on March 28, 2013


(sighs)

Anyone know of somewhere else to go? (And that comes from a big-time Amazon customer, too)
posted by tyllwin at 7:04 PM on March 28, 2013


As someone who was once adopted by Robert Reed and Florence Henderson, I can say without error that this is no good and definitely not like that.

Amazon, Amazon, Amazon!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:04 PM on March 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is locally bad. But, with all the attention that purchased-then-killed startups have been getting lately, and the flurry of GRAR over Google Reader, I'm glad to see that people are coming to realize that there is value in small, efficient, and independent, and that's kind of globally good.
posted by JHarris at 7:05 PM on March 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


As someone who was once adopted by Robert Reed and Florence Henderson, I can say without error that this is no good and definitely not like that.

1. Wha what?

2. Any relation to It's Raining Florence Henderson? Or do I need to look for Kinda Drizzling Lipstick Thespian for that?
posted by JHarris at 7:07 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Aw hell. Please don't kill or mess with the site, Amazon. I like Goodreads.
posted by zarq at 7:08 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is developed by one guy, and is great

Amazon probably spends more on free lunch for their employees every day than it will take for them to buy him out if it becomes enough of a nuisance to them.
posted by localroger at 7:08 PM on March 28, 2013


Very curious to know the $ details, hope a ballpark figure drips out somewhere.

Officially undisclosed just now.
posted by BWA at 7:11 PM on March 28, 2013


Haven't tried out any of the 'social' features on these, but worth a look. Both are non-profit for what it's worth.

Worldcat.org
Openlibrary.org
posted by jyorraku at 7:13 PM on March 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ugh. Gross.
posted by redsparkler at 7:14 PM on March 28, 2013


Amazon probably spends more on free lunch for their employees every day than it will take for them to buy him out if it becomes enough of a nuisance to them.

Oh, no doubt. But the app is free, and he's said on the mobilereads thread where he interacts with users that he plans to keep it that way (you can buy color themes for it if you want to support him, but they are totally unnecessary), so it seems he's not doing it for the money.

But yeah, if they offered him a cashbomb, who knows. I'm just happy to support (and proselytize) independant developers making things that are miles better than the equivalent corporate attempts.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:14 PM on March 28, 2013


I would seriously pitch in time and technical effort to building a new site that everyone could simply pick up and move to. Because that would be a frickin' brilliant outcome. Especially if the ToS at signup committed the site to remain nonprofit and to have no exclusive marketing agreements.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:16 PM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


All I can say is "Remember when IMDB was a database you downloaded off Usenet?"

I do. Then I remember them going web. And it was good.

Then came Amazon, and the site got more cluttered and commercialized and chunky.

(Unfortunately, my semi-OCD keeps me correcting crap on there.)
posted by Samizdata at 7:17 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always wanted better Kindle integration with Goodreads, so there is potential for that. Otherwise, I'm generally apprehensive.
posted by stp123 at 7:19 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hate this and it sucks.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:21 PM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


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.

This acquisition makes so much sense I'm surprised it took this long.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:26 PM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you're purely looking for reviews and series info, your local public library may offer access to NoveList or Fiction/Non-Fiction Connection. Not as helpful on the social front, but very useful for finding new things. I especially like NoveList's author read-alikes articles.
posted by asperity at 7:26 PM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Marvin does look verycool! Now if only it worked on my iPhone -
posted by newdaddy at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2013


FUCK
posted by boo_radley at 7:37 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just hope that they don't combine Goodreads reviews with those of Amazon proper. I don't have a particular bone to pick with Amazon's reviews (I check them first when debating a purchase of a used book), but they have a different tone and timbre than those of Goodreads. Again, not necessarily worse, but they often seem to be a little more shallow and immediate.

Maybe, due to the social nature of the site, there's more complex, diverse thought on Goodreads. I feel like there's more room to be personal on GR, so I try to write mini-essays whenever I'm compelled. Amazon reviews are much more utilitarian: "HERE IS BOOK, IT HAS PLOT, I LIKE BOOK."

And there's something about how the ratings are labeled (i.e. 3 stars = I liked it) that allows a greater range of ratings. I'm willing to rate a good book 3 stars on Goodreads, but a 3 star review on Amazon translates roughly to "This is garbage written by a stupid, awful man."
posted by Turkey Glue at 7:49 PM on March 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yes, IMDB is more clunky, but at at least it still exists. And it's still around, unlike most acquisitions by Google.


Zappos, Audible, Woot, DPReview are all still kicking. Monoliths suck, but litigious shareholders are worse.
posted by DigDoug at 7:50 PM on March 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


My primary use for goodreads is to scan in the barcodes of interesting physical books as they cross my desk. I then put them all on my 'to-get' list and periodically check to see if my library has finally gotten around to getting the ebook form. Sometimes, I give up and buy the book if its an obscure author.
I would dearly love for goodreads' to-get list could show up both in my library account and on my kindle just to make my life a bit easier.
posted by teleri025 at 7:59 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Damn. I just deleted my account.
posted by Violet Hour at 8:06 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


O! So that's what happened to IMDB! I wondered.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Marvin app is great. There are some UI quibbles but it works. It needs a better book search on Dropbox because it only pulled a thousand books instead of the larger collection. Pity about goodreads since I went there for book reviews. I had no idea it owned LT.
posted by jadepearl at 8:20 PM on March 28, 2013


I hope the founders made a GIANT PILE OF MONEY. Because GoodReads was a great site, and they did a brave thing a year ago severing all ties with Amazon. Despite being the easiest and most profitable affiliate program around, GoodReads deliberately demoted links to Amazon across the site and went their own way. So maybe this is the payoff for that bet, a big ol' acquisition.

I only signed up for GoodReads a month ago. It's a good site, I like it quite a bit, and my only complaint was the lack of Amazon / Kindle integration. If Amazon, Inc manages not to fuck up the startup they just bought, it should be a good thing.
posted by Nelson at 8:24 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I had no idea Amazon owned so much of LT

It appears that Amazon got LT because ABEbooks bought 40% of LT earlier. Second hand information from the discussion is that the owner of LT is not thrilled with the arrangement, but that may be gossip.

Oddly, though, I recently pulled all my books and ratings out and built my own little app for my own use with it.

I downloaded and deleted my books earlier today, but haven’t deleted the account yet.
posted by bongo_x at 8:24 PM on March 28, 2013


Marvin does look verycool! Now if only it worked on my iPhone

It needs a better book search on Dropbox because it only pulled a thousand books instead of the larger collection.

Both are being worked on -- the Dropbox thing is a known issue apparently. The developer, Kris, is very very responsive to suggestions and bug reports -- check out the mobilereads thread I linked above for more info.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:43 PM on March 28, 2013


Amazon probably spends more on free lunch for their employees every day than it will take for them to buy him out if it becomes enough of a nuisance to them.

Amazon gives its employees not one good goddamn thing for free.

I'm hoping this leads to a way to integrate me to-read list on Goodreads with my Kindle.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 8:46 PM on March 28, 2013


I hope the founders made a GIANT PILE OF MONEY.

Oh definitely. That's the hard thing for me with stories like this -- I hate great sites or services being sold to megacorps that almost inevitably Yahoo or Google them (I'm militating for redefinitions of those names to verbs meaning 'to buy, mishandle, let languish, and ultimately kill'), but I'm always happy for the indie site developers who built them and got a big payout for their years of work (if that's what they wanted).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:47 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


but I'm always happy for the indie site developers who built them and got a big payout for their years of work (if that's what they wanted).

I hear you. But I can’t help but feel misled about their intent, especially after the falling out with Amazon last year and all the work people put into rebuilding the database. For free.
posted by bongo_x at 8:53 PM on March 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm always happy for the indie site developers who built them

Oh, me too, but the megacorps are like these guys who have to show up at a party, and they bring a couple of lively and attractive companions, and a six-pack or a bottle of wine, or Grey Goose, something... but they always end up talking about these great nutritional supplements they're selling, or an insurance policy or some other "opportunity." And hell, y'know, after they ruin enough parties this way, you get to the point where you just want to find a party without them, and to hell with their booze and companions.
posted by tyllwin at 8:54 PM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


As my wife is towards the top of their ratings roster, should she be expecting a check any time soon from Amazon? ;-)
posted by MikeWarot at 8:57 PM on March 28, 2013


Still using Stanza. They can pry it from my cold, dead hands. You'll find me trolling eBay for old iPods just to have one that still runs Stanza. (4th gen iPod touch does).
posted by jb at 8:58 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


dang, and I just found it!

Now I'm going to have to go and create 10 different personas and rate books I've never read, just to mess with their data.
posted by jb at 6:56 PM on 3/28
[3 favorites +] [!]


Make sure they all give fantastic reviews to Fernando Pessoa.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:00 PM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Amazon reviews are much more utilitarian: "HERE IS BOOK, IT HAS PLOT, I LIKE BOOK."

Best read as Phil Hartman as Frankenstein.
posted by crapmatic at 9:02 PM on March 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Still using Stanza. They can pry it from my cold, dead hands.

I sense that I'm rabbiting on about Marvin a bit much here, but I felt exactly the same way for a long time. But I made the switch a month or two back, and a few very minor issues aside (I have a stupid attachment to fake 3D page-turn animation, for example), I'm very happy indeed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:04 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the issue is that when you are a part of a community and contribute to that community, it is a shock to learn that your contributions are to be repurposed and monetized as an asset by a private company.

The terms of service are unclear -- if you go to it now it says "Former terms of service", which suggests to me they're keeping the option open of invoking the "these terms may change without notice at our sole discretion" clause, so maybe you can and maybe you can't remove your content and expect it to remain removed. But irrespective of whether you can or cannot do that, it presumably is not a position you expected to be in when you contributed the content.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:08 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Goodreads was venture backed, what did people expect to happen?
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:10 PM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Amazon already knows me very, very well. The music I like, the books I like, the electronics I like. The odd bike part I like. I don't enjoy a useful, independent site being assimilated into The Borg any more than any one else here, but I suspect I am not the only Mefite who Amazon could profile with embarrassing accuracy, GoodReads or no. And yes, I still tithe to buy from my local, awesome book store at least monthly.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:11 PM on March 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I suspect I am not the only Mefite who Amazon could profile with embarrassing accuracy

I would think so too, but they seem incapable of making any useful suggestions. I have to assume they don't really want to -- they're only looking at how to best choose between the limited number of things they want to push.

Goodreads was venture backed, what did people expect to happen?

I think they were participating in what they thought was a community, not digging into an investigation of the financing. It doesn't shock me, but then again that poisonous cynicism is a big part of my lack of friends.
posted by tyllwin at 9:18 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


DPReview [is] still kicking

Yeah, but they've definitely changed since Amazon got 'em. They've added a ton of staff, but half their reviews lately languish forever in unfinished "preview" status, missing the final image quality data and samples that everyone really wants. Instead they're trying to push all their traffic to their phone camera site, DPReview Connect, which is downright spammy at times. They had some article recently that pretended (in the headline) to be about looking at some historical examples of photo manipulation, but every single entry included a big link to a different photo effect app they wanted you to buy. Sleazy.
posted by echo target at 9:20 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


So should I quit my job and kickstart building a replacement? I can promise it'll never look slick enough for Amazon to buy it.
posted by Zed at 9:21 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've already started coding up a partial replacement site that specializes exclusively in horror novels.

Hope to see you all at goodbleeds.com!
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:29 PM on March 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


(waits to see if someone actually registers that domain in the hope of flogging it to amazon)
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:31 PM on March 28, 2013


Meh, I don't have a Kindle and have no plans to get one. Unless Amazon starts limiting Goodreads to their Kindle (Or Audible) customers or they eff up commenting function the way they have on IMDB, I'm not worried about this news--yet.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:57 PM on March 28, 2013


Well, I feel slightly prescient. Also cranky. At least the export function is fast and easy.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:25 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boy, I can't *wait* for all the friend requests from Kindle authors! That'll be great!

Seriously, Kindle authors: it's a crap way to market your book. Please don't do it any more.
posted by RakDaddy at 10:47 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why would anyone buy a site called Goo Dreads? It sounds like a niche fetish site, if you ask me. Amazon have really shot themselves in the foot this time.

No, it's just another typically techie/hipster name -- Goodre Ads. Now you see why acquisition was inevitable.
posted by dhartung at 10:56 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


An interesting and perhaps significant difference between Shelfari and Goodreads is that Shelfari appears to link only to Amazon / Abebooks (owned by Amazon) by default, whereas Goodreads drives traffic to a variety of configurable places in the store links beside each book. I can imagine it being worth it to Amazon to buy Goodreads purely to control the default store links, even if they leave the configuration options alone so logged-in users see the links they prefer.

The review / ratings data isn't really that interesting, because it's largely harvestable through a public API, ambiguous in significance (i.e. subject to effects like sequels getting rated higher and higher, young adult novels generally getting better ratings than novels for adults, classics getting downrated by people forced to read them in school, etc.), and probably not better than review / ratings / recommendations / who-reads-what / sales data Amazon already has.

Controlling Goodreads promotions and marketing (author Q&As, new this month spam, etc.) is probably interesting to them, but I doubt they care about 99% of the user experience, and if they have a lick of sense, they'll let the people currently in charge of that continue making decisions so that they still have a social network to market to.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:28 PM on March 28, 2013


books.metafilter.com anyone?
posted by dobie at 11:30 PM on March 28, 2013 [18 favorites]


I can see why Amazon scooping up all the book lover's forums and social networks is a bad thing, but I don't really see why them using the social data to sell their products is. If you have a Kindle, this is great news.

Also, if you have a kindle, or any e reader, you've already opted into having what you read catologed and data mined. You might as well get some useful recommendations out of it.

I have a kindle and I use Moonreader for epubs. I buy some ebooks from Amazon, but I refuse to use library ebooks laden with DRM. There are other sources, yes they are shady, no I don't feel bad about it. They're not losing any sales on me- if they weren't available to me via TPB or somesuch I wouldn't be buying the books anyway.
posted by dave78981 at 12:03 AM on March 29, 2013


Other options:

LibraryThing - Amazon owns 40% of it.
OpenLibrary - Doesn't have any features at all
WorldCat - Interface is yuckish(somewhat) and can't import my GR data.


I would have loved to be with OpenLibrary just for the one thing that it's an initiative by InternetArchive.
posted by amar at 12:32 AM on March 29, 2013


For ios users - a plug for Readmill which is small but excellent (more of a reading log than a huge catalogue, but really nicely designed)
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 1:17 AM on March 29, 2013


Oh come on. I created a Goodreads account in February specifically because they weren’t Amazon. At least till now it’s still easy to cancel one’s account.
posted by wachhundfisch at 2:12 AM on March 29, 2013


Still using Stanza.

Also using Stanza, though I've been testing and liking Readmill lately. Definitely giving Marvin a shot though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:11 AM on March 29, 2013


Gee, thanks again, Chandler family. Here in L.A., we're flinching over whether it will be the Koch brothers or Rupert Murdoch who next ruin our last daily newspaper, which lasted all of eight years until bankruptcy after you sold off to the huns. When is enough money enough?
posted by Scram at 3:20 AM on March 29, 2013


I am not too surprised.

I got an email enquiry from a VC-type equity person about 4-6 weeks ago, asking about how I thought it might be possible to monetize GoodReads -- he was one of their backers, looking at what to do next. I couldn't suggest much; he was thinking in terms of turning GoodReads into an ebook storefront, but I had to point out that this would be an uphill battle against the entrenched might of you-know-who. I guess an AMZN acquisition was the path of least resistance in the end.

This does not make me happy.
posted by cstross at 4:33 AM on March 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


stavrosthewonderchicken: "The good news is that there's finally, just in the last few months, a worthy and possibly-even-better Stanza successor (for iPad only at this stage) called Marvin."

Thank you. Thank you. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.
posted by chavenet at 5:10 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nobody else immediately thought about antitrust issues?
posted by jaduncan at 5:36 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jaduncan, I was literally just typing something wondering about antitrust. I have no idea if/how it would apply here but if Amazon's going to try to gain control of every social books site that gains critical mass that seems sketchy.
posted by yarrow at 5:40 AM on March 29, 2013


From a data mining perspective (and that's all I think Amazon cares about wrt this deal), it's important to note the qualitative differences between reviews on Amazon and reviews on Goodreads. I feel like there are certain people on Amazon who try to be "power reviewers" and develop a certain style that will garner the most "helpful" button clicks (or +1's or whatever they're called there). I assume there is some kind of Goodreads equivalent (I don't use the site myself), which has been created and cultivated under a different set of circumstances, and I wonder how they compare. I'd bet that people are willing to be more honest with Goodreads and more people-pleasing with Amazon, and that Amazon intends to use that knowledge somehow. Maybe certain types of readers read more during a single sitting, or other types of readers take frequent breaks. Either way, you know they'll leverage this with their existing data mining empire (disclosure: that link goes to a post I created)...
posted by antonymous at 5:48 AM on March 29, 2013


Amazon already knows me very, very well. The music I like, the books I like, the electronics I like.

I wish they knew me better. I always find their recommendations to be utterly shit.

Playing with Marvin all morning though. Love it, love it, love it. Now I just have to figure out how to set up an opds feed from Calibre without running calibre2opds and setting up a webserver.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:07 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


This makes me sad. Goodreads is probably my favorite site on the internet, and I really liked it rather small and simple and no-fuss. I see absolutely nothing to be gained in the user experience by this deal, which is a real drag. Also, Goodreads is relatively old and has been doing its thing peacefully for quite some time now; I was hoping it had slipped under the radar a bit.
posted by likeatoaster at 6:26 AM on March 29, 2013


As a LibraryThing and Goodreads member this is distinctly unpleasing news. OpenLibrary looks nice, but it doesn't seem to be a competitor unless I'm missing something.
posted by tommasz at 6:29 AM on March 29, 2013


FYI, WorldCat's interfaces will all be changing within the next year or so. I don't know if they're planning on doing more social interaction, but keep an eye out for what happens next.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:37 AM on March 29, 2013


For ios users - a plug for Readmill which is small but excellent (more of a reading log than a huge catalogue, but really nicely designed)

Seconded. It's great.
posted by mekanic at 7:13 AM on March 29, 2013


LibraryThing weighs in: First, this is GOOD NEWS. I've been wanting this forever.
posted by BibiRose at 7:19 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Good to hear that LibraryThing's Amazon ownership is more complex than initially reported. I may as well move my stuff over there for now.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:30 AM on March 29, 2013


Goodreads was venture backed, what did people expect to happen?

This. If you are using a "free" service backed by venture capital, one of two things are going to happen: (1) the service is going to fold, and probably take all of your data with it; (2) the service is going to be acquired by some Giant Corporate Overlord, who are probably only interested in killing it, or in siphoning off users for their own ends, or in sucking the database into their own products.

VC backed companies are the gazelles of the dot-com savanna. Pretty to look at and impressive when they're just doing their thing, but ultimately doomed to starve to death during a drought or get their guts ripped out by more predatorial species.

It's the circle of life.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:02 AM on March 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


Any way of quickly backing up all your GR data before deleting? I used GR as a good way of keeping track of my reading habits and would like some way of saving all that data.
posted by kariebookish at 8:12 AM on March 29, 2013


Go to "My Books" and hit "Import/Export" on the left sidebar, then look on the right sidebar for "Export to CSV" - it works fine and then you can use that .csv to import your stuff to LibraryThing (and probably elsewhere.)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:17 AM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Any way of quickly backing up all your GR data before deleting?

My Books -> import/export (or what restless_nomad said)
posted by seemoreglass at 8:17 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Officially undisclosed just now.

I couldn't read the WSJ article. Requires subscription.

Amazon Likely Paid $1 Billion for Goodreads -- "A back-of-the-envelope estimate involves Goodreads's value per user, yet there's more to consider."
posted by ericb at 8:55 AM on March 29, 2013


Amazon bought Goodreads, but it won’t break it
... when Amazon bought Goodreads, people despaired that it was tightening its chokehold by eating up the last community of readers independent of Amazon.
posted by ericb at 9:22 AM on March 29, 2013


This kind of sucks.

I just created a GR account and have been setting things up.


GoodReads and Book Depository, I am sorry. For both sites, not long after account creation Amazon has swooped you up. I am the harbinger of death :(


I have a prime account, but I don't want everything filtered through them.
posted by microm3gas at 9:23 AM on March 29, 2013


Amazon says it will 'do no harm' to Goodreads after acquisition.
posted by ericb at 9:39 AM on March 29, 2013


Blergh. It seems fitting that this happened right after what happened with Google Reader; both of those services I went to because I was tired of fiddling with hacking on PHP apps and their user experience was nicer. (As time went on, they got decent Android apps, too.)

We have a local book club that initially got together through Goodreads; they announce meetups on Facebook now too but I've stuck with the Goodreads for RSVPs because ugh, Facebook.

Not deleting my account or anything yet, but I'm definitely a little irked.

What the hell ever happened to anti-trust enforcement, anyway?
posted by epersonae at 10:19 AM on March 29, 2013


Amazon is sort of the poster child for the worst of the web's "circus poster graphics" style. I was interested in reviewing what is wrong with that and googled circus poster and could not find a very well written article I read several years ago. My memory was it was on one of Philip Greenspun's pages but using site:philip.greenspun.com in my search came up empty.

The chances that Amazon will not destroy goodreads seems very small to me.
posted by bukvich at 10:21 AM on March 29, 2013


If you are using a "free" service backed by venture capital, one of two things are going to happen: (1) the service is going to fold, and probably take all of your data with it; (2) the service is going to be acquired by some Giant Corporate Overlord, who are probably only interested in killing it, or in siphoning off users for their own ends, or in sucking the database into their own products.

Yes. But Goodreads was one of the only times I let myself be sucked in. Seems obvious in hindsight that this would happen though.

This is why older people laugh when younger people act like all these internet services will always be around and have no qualms about relying on "the cloud", or any tech for that matter.
posted by bongo_x at 10:26 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


That $1B valuation article is completely hot air. His entire theory is "users on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram are on average worth $55 each. So 16M * $55 = $880M. Round up to make the linkBait headline." The author even admits it's a total guess. It's not a bad place to start valuing a company btw, but when the result is crazy it is. I also doubt GoodReads has 16M active users. Another way to look at this is GoodReads has $2.75M in funding. If that number is accurate, then they'd probably be happy with anything over $20M. The question because how much more they'd hold out for. We'll probably find out eventually; in general someone leaks the purchase price. Look to AllThingsD to report it.
posted by Nelson at 10:31 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah I'd expect more like $30M.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:37 AM on March 29, 2013


Goodreads is no Instagram: Amazon paid about $150 million --"Estimates of the company's billion-dollar purchase price were sadly misguided."
posted by ericb at 12:22 PM on March 29, 2013


Tobias Buckell talks about consumer relationships and how publishers are getting left behind. An interesting take on it - I think he's got a point, in that if your business model assumes a middleman, you don't have a whole lot of wiggle room when the middleman gets greedy.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:03 PM on March 29, 2013


That Verge article is just a shitty rewrite of Kara Swisher's article on AllThingsD (published an hour after I speculated they'd have the story). She reports $150M – $200M, mostly cash. That's an extraordinarily good price if it's correct.
posted by Nelson at 2:04 PM on March 29, 2013


That Verge article is just a shitty rewrite of Kara Swisher's article on AllThingsD ...

Um, you do realize that Verge mentions Swisher and her article as the PRIMARY SOURCE (with hyperlink) for their reporting/article. Right?
"Thankfully, saner voices bearing better information have prevailed. AllThingsD's Kara Swisher has sources close to the deal who say Amazon netted Goodreads for an unspecified mix of cash and stock worth somewhere between $140 and $150 million."
posted by ericb at 5:36 PM on March 29, 2013


One correction: Amazon apparently doesn't own 40% of LibraryThing, according to Tim Spalding.
posted by RyanAdams at 5:55 PM on March 29, 2013


relied on members to do the work of building and maintaining their database

Wretched tactic. The same tactic controversially resulted in Gracenote - originally known as the Compact Disc Data Base, built by thousands of volunteers who were convinced it was GPL licensed - and sold to Sony for $260million in 2008.

Crowd-sourcing hath its dangers, and needs to protect itself from these scam-artists.
posted by Twang at 6:57 PM on March 29, 2013


LibraryThing is giving out free accounts through Sunday, which is super convenient, and I discovered when they sent me a note explaining that ordinarily they'd like some money to process the enormous stack of books I dumped on them, but they were going to give me a year free instead.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:04 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


FYI, WorldCat's interfaces will all be changing within the next year or so. I don't know if they're planning on doing more social interaction, but keep an eye out for what happens next.

Worldcat might get interesting soon. A non-trivial number of universities are using it as their library catalog and once college students pick it up, it could take off quickly. The array of materials is also much more diverse in that ecosystem. They have entries for scholarly publications, multimedia, and obscure items that have been cataloged by librarians.

How awesome would it be to see readers adding dissertations and journal articles to their reading lists?
posted by jyorraku at 2:22 AM on March 30, 2013


Anil Dash noted that Bloomberg changed that ridiculous "Amazon Likely Paid $1 Billion For Goodreads" headline to "Rampant Speculation: How Much Did Amazon Pay for Goodreads?", without any editorial disclosure at rewriting their foolishness.
posted by Nelson at 9:54 AM on March 30, 2013


Hey,

Isn't the only reason Goodreader's owners were able to get $150M+ for it because we all heaped it full with value from our actions? Don't these kinds of internet startups really do, effectively, is just aggregate value from all of us then trade it to a big corporation for cash?
posted by JHarris at 11:51 AM on March 30, 2013


Pretty much, yeah. In this case, so far, the users also get access to the value they themselves create - the reviews, which are pure user-created content, and the recommendations (i.e. the aggregate purchasing data) which Goodreads does the back-end facilitation for. It's a little different than, say, Facebook, where the valuable data from the corporate end is of little or no value to the end-user.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:57 AM on March 30, 2013


I find Amazon's book recommedations to be decent - my problem is with their other recommendations. For example, if I buy a blender, it then recommends to me ten other blenders.

I finally joined GoodReads last year and have been happier with it than either LibraryThing or Shelfari, and I really hope it stays mostly the way it is.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:21 PM on March 30, 2013


if I buy a blender, it then recommends to me ten other blenders.

It's worse than that. If you even look at a blender it spends three months harassing you with pictures of blenders in other websites.
posted by localroger at 12:44 PM on March 30, 2013


Don't these kinds of internet startups really do, effectively, is just aggregate value from all of us then trade it to a big corporation for cash?

That's funny; I see GoodReads as a place I can track what books I read, write reviews, share my thoughs on books with friends, and get recommendations of what to read next. All for free! And if I don't like that, why, I can simply stop using their free voluntary service. They even have an export feature so I can take the data with me when I go.

Yes, in addition the GoodReads folks found a way to build something valuable out of offering the service for free to millions of people on the Internet. They weren't exactly hiding what they do with the data nor abusing their users' privacy. Is the fact the founders were motivated to build a valuable company worth complaining about?
posted by Nelson at 1:09 PM on March 30, 2013


Yes, but let's not forget that we played a role in Goodread's success. It seems a bit odd that, when these companies announce big sales to corporate monoliths, we're being kind of sold out, the value we invested into the company is being sold, and there's never any compensation offered to us.

Facts can always be interpreted in a variety of ways, with varying degrees of legitimacy. In this case, two ways are "They built a valuable company" and "They aggregated our value and sold it to Amazon." I find it valuable to look at the interpretations that get consistently ignored.
posted by JHarris at 1:23 PM on March 30, 2013


Look on the bright side; as an individual the amount of work you put into GoodReads is probably not all that great, and you've gotten value out of it in the form of other readers' recommendations. Consider the poor saps who blogged for the Huffington Post who actually made an internship of it for years and got nada of the $300 million that the site sold for even they were almost entirely responsible for its success.
posted by localroger at 1:28 PM on March 30, 2013


GoodReads built a valuable company by taking your data, aggregating it, and selling it and advertising on it to various companies. This is how many, many Internet businesses work. If that bothers you, I suggest you don't look too closely at how Metafilter itself works.

I think the dissonance for you is that the acquisition somehow means you "deserve" some part of that notional $55 / user payout. That strikes me as a singularly odd form of entitlement. As localroger notes the Huffington Post writers had a stronger case, although I'd argue they were awfully naive.

On the flip side, when I was a broke grad student in 1999 I got a letter in the mail one day from RedHat, Inc, offering me the opportunity to buy some IPO shares at a friends and family price. In that market, that was basically handing me a gift of several thousand dollars. Why? Because RedHat Linux included some open source code I had written, and they choose to extend the friends & family round to as many open source contributers as they could track down. I greatly appreciated that gesture.
posted by Nelson at 1:41 PM on March 30, 2013


as an individual the amount of work you put into GoodReads is probably not all that great, and you've gotten value out of it in the form of other readers' recommendations

That's probably true for the vast majority of people. I have written more than five hundred reviews that represent a fairly substantial investment of time and creativity. I'm irritated now as much that I decided to give those away as that they're ending up with Amazon, but I made the very conscious choice NOT to write Amazon reviews for a variety of reasons, and that makes me cranky too.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:56 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have written more than five hundred reviews that represent a fairly substantial investment of time and creativity.

I agree that that level of commitment gets a bit closer to how the HuffPo bloggers got hosed. I'd speculate that this goes all the way back to that creed of the grifters, if you don't know who the mark is in a given situation then it's very likely to be you.
posted by localroger at 3:01 PM on March 30, 2013


If Wikipedia is right, Amazon has not made all that many acquisitions in its history, and most all of the things they bought are alive and well still. Unlike Google and Yahoo they mainly seem to buy only things that are closely related to their core business. So I guess there is a reasonable chance of Goodreads having a long term future in good shape.

On another note, I exported my book data, mostly just to see what it looked like. Are there any interesting things to be done with that data now? e.g. Sites that can read it, or apps that can use it?
posted by philipy at 6:05 PM on March 30, 2013


Nate Hoffelder: There’s A Reason That No One in Publishing Bought Goodreads
[2010] was the year that 3 major publishers got together and announced a new site that would give them a direct digital connection to readers.

It’s called Bookish, and it does give Hachette, Penguin, or Simon & Schuster a direct connection to readers. But the connection it offers is so very, very different from Goodreads that the differences tell us quite a bit about these publishers’ priorities.
posted by vanar sena at 9:36 AM on March 31, 2013


Are there any interesting things to be done with that data now? e.g. Sites that can read it, or apps that can use it?

I'm sad to say that you can't import it at LibraryThing worth a damn -- I just tried it. It ignored categories and dates read -- all the books are uselessly dumped together in one category.

And LT's example of how to format a csv for import omits examples for some of the fields like tags, which could really use one.

I am not feeling filled with confidence.
posted by Zed at 10:12 AM on March 31, 2013


My import went ok -- I exported manually from Goodreads & just imported the last 100 or so books that I read. It didn't import the date read, though, which was really annoying, nor did it import tags.
posted by epersonae at 10:35 AM on April 1, 2013


The Simple Reason Why Goodreads Is So Valuable to Amazon -- "A small fraction of Americans buy the vast majority of books in this country. Goodreads gives Jeff Bezos & Co. a direct line into their thoughts and habits."
posted by ericb at 11:35 AM on April 2, 2013


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