ENTRIES TAGGED "book discovery"
Amazon buys Goodreads, book blind dates, bailouts for French indie bookstores, and U.K. libraries will join the digital era.
Amazon marches on toward global retail domination
The whiplash-inducing headline this week was Amazon’s announcement late Thursday that it has acquired book discovery and sharing site rival Goodreads. Industry response to the announcement was “swift and laced with skepticism,” Leslie Kaufman reported at the New York Times. She quoted Edward Champion tweeting, “Say hello to a world in which Amazon targets you based on your Goodreads reviews. No company should have this power.” Kaufman also noted part of the bigger picture: “The deal is made more significant because Amazon already owned part or all of Goodreads’ competitors, Shelfari and LibraryThing.”
Wired’s Marcus Wohlsen expanded on the targeting issue Champion mentioned. He highlighted Amazon self-published success story author Hugh Howey, who was quoted in the Amazon press release saying, “I just found out my two favorite people are getting married. The best place to discuss books is joining up with the best place to buy books.” Wohlsen pointed out that “even as Amazon provides Howey an ‘independent’ platform to spread his work, his success also makes him a valuable Amazon product” — and now Goodreads readers will become valuable Amazon products as well.
Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler on how Goodreads engages its more than 15 million registered users.
Last week, O’Reilly GM and publisher Joe Wikert reviewed Goodreads’ CEO Otis Chandler’s TOC session, in which Chandler presented the results of a recent Goodreads readers survey. One of the interesting pieces from the survey covered the effectiveness of Goodreads reviews. In relation to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, 58% of surveyed readers said they bought Gone Girl because of Goodreads reviews and 52% said they bought The Night Circus because of Goodreads reviews.
The more interesting bit here, though, might be the sheer number of Goodreads reviews of each book: according to Chandler’s presentation slide, Gone Girl had 34,200 reviews and The Night Circus had 22,000. Compare that to the number of Amazon reviews (as of the time of writing) of 8,557 and 1,996 respectively.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Chandler during the TOC conference to talk about the Goodreads platform and how it has managed to become so engaging with its more than 15 million registered users. Chandler says the platform started with a mission of discovery but has evolved and become its own community:
“I think, first of all, our mission is book discovery. We’re basically in the business of helping people find good books and helping them share those books with friends. That’s something that people innately want to do, so we’ve created a place where you can connect to friends, browse all their bookshelves, find a ton of good books through that, and that was really the genesis of the site was to discover good books through your friends.
Authors experiment with publishing paths, readers discover books just fine, and publishers might be replaced by publishing teams.
Experiments in non-traditional publishing routes
Forbes’ Shel Israel wrote this week about how he and Robert Scoble came to the decision as to how publishing their upcoming book, Age of Context. Israel and Scoble considered three of the most common publishing paths — traditional publishing, self-publishing, and crowdsourcing — and, inspired by author Rick Smolan’s chosen publishing route, opted for none other than corporate sponsorship.
“To date, we have raised approximately $100,000,” Israel writes. “This is about three-times what we heard as a best offer from a traditional publisher.”
No AutoRip for books, for now; McGraw-Hill launches SmartBook; and Hilary Mason brings the fun of randomness to book discovery.
Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week.