Amazon Picks Up Bibliophilic Social Platform Goodreads

Facebook looks to make books more shareable

Amazon continues to socialize itself. The e-commerce giant announced today that it has acquired bibliophilic social platform Goodreads.

“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,” Amazon vp of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti said in a company statement.

At first glance and rightfully so, the acquisition is more of a “duh” deal than a move against Facebook or other social networks. People use Goodreads to document what they’ve read, are reading and want to read and share those lists with others. Conceivably Amazon will use Goodreads—whose  16 million members have added more than four books per second to their “want to read” lists over the last month and a half—to improve Amazon users' and especially Kindle owners' ability to share that type of information and Amazon’s ability to use that information in recommending new books for people to purchase.

But Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos are famous for thinking long-term, and in the long run, the acquisition could preempt Facebook’s interest in books as shareable content. Last month at All Things D’s "D: Dive Into Media" conference, Facebook’s vp of partnerships Dan Rose said that the company is priming books as the next type of content users will be able to more easily share on the social network, just as they have previously done with music through integrations with music-streaming apps like Spotify. Rose even pointed to Goodreads specifically as an app through which Facebook users are already to share what they’re reading.

Of course a more social Amazon and a more bookworm-y Facebook could coexist. Amazon is among Facebook’s more high-profile advertisers, and Goodreads CEO and cofounder Otis Chandler said in a blog post that Goodreads will continue as an independent entity, which suggests the platform's integration with Facebook to let users connect their accounts and share lists won't go away anytime soon.

But the two companies have been inching closer toward each other’s business of late. A couple months after Facebook debuted social gifting service Gifts last fall, which many have viewed as laying the foundation for a more robust e-commerce product, Amazon rolled out profile pages for brands that are like shopping-centric versions of Facebook’s famed Pages, then the e-commerce company introduced its own social-gifting product. And of course both companies, as well as Google, are positioned to compete for the foreseeable future as the most dominant alphas in the online advertising market.