Book recommendation website Goodreads has pledged to remain an "independent entity", after the social media website agreed to its sale to Amazon.com on Thursday (28th March) ahead of the long Easter weekend.
The deal, variously valued at between $150m and more implausibly $1bn, sparked a backlash on other social media websites, such as Twitter, as readers and book industry insiders sought to adjust to the news.
Goodreads was founded in San Francisco in 2007 and has 16m users who discover and recommend titles to each other. Amazon’s vice-president for Kindle content Russ Grandinetti said that the two companies together intend to "build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike".
Grandinetti said: "Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading. 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."
In a blog, Goodreads founder Otis Chandler said the deal was a "new milestone" in the company’s life and that it brought the social website to digital reading. "Our members have been asking us to bring the Goodreads experience to an e-reader for a long time," he said. "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." He added: "Amazon supports us continuing to grow our vision as an independent entity, under the Goodreads brand and with our unique culture." The Goodreads team will continue to be based in San Francisco.
However, not all Goodreads' users saw it so positively. Some said the company was "selling out". One Twitter user, Karyn Silverman, wrote "Just heard the Goodreads/Amazon news. Anyone have alternatives for alternatives and extracting data? Am 2 years into Amazon boycott." Another wrote "Time for me to cancel my membership then." However, others pointed to the possible upsides from greater interactivity between Kindle and the Goodreads website and reader reviews. One commentator suggested that the deal could open up the Kindle, since Goodreads has links to prices across a range of other booksellers.
US blogger Porter Anderson summed up some of the shrill early reactions on his blog at Publishing Perspectives: “The panic surely started promptly. And now was the fimbulwinter of our discontent made glorious slapstick by such loud reactions.” He advised not rushing to judgement: "I gently whisper into your ear that the other side of this story is not, in truth, the End of Days. It is, actually, a retailer. Granted, Amazon is likely to annex all of Idaho by the end of the week — as its parking lot — but it is still a retailer. It sells things, and it sells them better than most others do."
Amazon has also reportedly hired a former Microsoft veteran Charlie Kindel, who recently worked at Microsoft’s Windows Phone Unit. The hire has reignited old rumours that Amazon might be developing a smartphone, according to the Financial Times.
Kindel updated his LinkedIn profile yesterday (1st April) to say he had been appointed to a new role at Amazon working on "something secret". He wrote "I’m building a new team going after a totally new area for Amazon. I’m hiring cloud and mobile developers and testers, program managers and product managers."