ENTRIES TAGGED "goodreads"
Mobile retail access is a vital part of an overarching brand experience
It wasn’t one of my proudest moments when, a week before Christmas last year, I was hunched over my smartphone towards the back of the famous Hamley’s Toy Store on London’s Regent Street, composure tethered to an elusive bar of 3G network. The thing was, that bar had been easier to find in-store than the toy I planned on presenting my nephew with for Christmas. When I placed my order on Amazon with a plethora of merchandise within arm’s length, a nagging sense of irony did not escape me – nor did a whole new understanding of retail pain points. To be fair, Christmas shopping in a metropolitan area probably blasts through higher-than-average pain thresholds.
Similarities between the HBO series and our industry are remarkable
There’s no question that the publishing industry is going through a lot of changes. It’s the last industry to go digital, and as a result going through the fastest disruption. Watching the Game of Thrones is like watching a war between traditional publishing houses, startups, tech giants, indie publishers, and other players in the industry.
Tremendous potential, but will Amazon take full advantage of it?
I decided to wait a few days before writing about Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads. I wanted to let the dust settle before weighing in with my own opinion. Now that I’ve had some time to mull it over, here’s what I think: This has the potential to be a game-changer that could be the next, and possibly final, nail in the coffins of other ebook retailers…but only if Amazon actually does something with the Goodreads platform.
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.
Some of the Goodreads member survey results will surprise you
You might recall an article a few months ago that asked the question, “What do readers want?”. It was a call for publishing types to submit questions that Goodreads could ask their members. Your questions ultimately formed the basis of the Goodreads member survey.
... or why I believe in a bright future for ebook subscription
During the 2013 edition of the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference in New York City, I will be participating in a panel that has been called ‘The Elusive Netflix of eBooks‘. The title implies the notion that a subscription service for ebooks has not fully worked yet. While it is true there is no 500-pound gorilla selling subscriptions yet, my point of view as someone behind one of the companies offering such a service, is that this is just part of the process. A process that is just taking the right steps in the right direction.
Let me explain what I mean by going through four main stages, loosely taken from what any innovative product adoption lifecycle typically looks like.
We asked readers how they discover and purchase books
When Joe Wikert and I first began talking about doing a survey of readers’ book-buying habits, I had something specific in mind. While every day brings news of another publisher starting up or perhaps of a new online community for readers or authors–and sometimes several in a single day–most of these new entities will disappear in time, some to be swallowed up by a larger entity, others to simply turn out the lights. A small number–two or three in any given category–might manage to stick around for the long term.
And, yes, only two or three: as the hard economics of the Internet makes clear, the Internet is not for wusses. It’s an undemocratic medium with a small number of companies lording it over the thousands of champions of the Long Tail. A safe prediction is that the multitude of book-related sites will be winnowed down to a small number in time. But what will those sites be and what will characterize a successful book-oriented service in the coming years?
A very simple solution is right under Amazon's nose
By now you undoubtedly read about Amazon’s decision to remove a large number of questionable book reviews. This is a problem that’s existed since the first day Amazon reviews. Most are probably from legitimate customers but quite a few are undoubtedly from friends, family, and others who never even opened the book.