Amazon & Goodreads

There’s been a lot said about Amazon’s latest move, the decision to buy Goodreads.

While I agree that Amazon has made a very sensible move in acquiring the company, it seems to be a far more strategic and defensive acquisition than anything else. The real value of the deal is in what it prevents rather than in what it enables.

All the talk about the data gained seems a little misplaced to me. Amazon, after all, has considerably more and better data on readers and via Kindle is getting even more as time goes on. Where Goodreads has only the expressed opinions and posted libraries of its users, Amazon has real sales and purchases and, increasingly, real reading data on readers not to mention reader class, book and book class level. No-one else comes close to that.

What the purchase does do though is prevent a valuable commodity from becoming a weakness in the future in the hands of a rival. In fact, almost all of Amazon’s acquisitions in the book space have been quite successful at keeping reader preferences and expressed opinion data at the global or non-publisher specific level from the hands of others. In many ways its minority interest in LibraryThing prevents a publisher from getting involved there too (I like LibraryThing and have a lifetime account).

So Amazon has gained a little but prevented a lot by removing yet another data-set from the hands of its rivals, whether it takes advantage of this data-set or not, it at least ensures that its rivals are considerably less data empowered than it itself is.

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4 comments

  1. True. But also: They’ve used Shelfari for X-Ray and have a richer set for that now. I think they’ll use the content. One particular gain is (and this one is more aggressive than defensive) the great potential for new customers, as many with Goodreads have tended to shop more elsewhere all along.

  2. Very true, but I’m not convinced Amazon’s rivals you speak of really understand the value of that data, or that they would have made any kind of imminent play to acquire it. Some might have, certainly, but at times like this, it seems Amazon is playing on a field all by themselves when everybody else is still in the parking lot or just making their way into the stadium.

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