by Chelsea

In March, Amazon announced it was expanding its business by acquiring Goodreads, a website that allows readers to discover new books and provide commentaries on books either already on shelves or soon to be publicly available. This expansion will surely draw more readers to Amazon; however, Goodreads originally helped not only readers, but a variety of booksellers as well. In a recent Publisher’s Weekly article, reporter Judith Rosen discusses how some booksellers used Goodreads to find bloggers’ and early readers’ reactions to advance copies of books before selling them in their stores. Becky Anderson, co-owner of Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois, states that she used Goodreads “to make blurbs, shelftalkers, and to submit for IndieNext.” Rosen writes that due to this expansion, some booksellers are seeking other independent platforms to replace Goodreads, especially since Amazon is one of their competitors.

One possible replacement Rosen mentions is Riffle, which just launched in May. The site provides a Pinterest-style, mobile-friendly setup by focusing on individual posts that can be shared with a bigger network. The creators based their site on successful sites and apps in order to learn how to manage massive traffic. Bookish is another potential solution for booksellers. CEO Ardy Khazaei describes the platform as giving “people the insight of publishers large and small around their books.” Despite it still being in the early stages of certain functions, Khazaei also wants Bookish to integrate more with IndieBound—a site dedicated to directing consumers to their nearest independent bookstore for their book purchases—to promote indies.

Some people may prefer Zola, an up-and-coming site that, in addition to allowing its customers to socialize, will provide book news and offer features including digital book sales and, eventually, audio. Joe Regal, president of Zola, says “we’re kind of Amazon meets Goodreads [prior to the acquisition] and more.” Although it is only in its beta stage as of this summer, the site already has 137 booksellers ready for the launch. Beyond US options, there is BookLikes, a Polish-based platform that has Tumblr similarities in function and design. CEO Dawid Piaskowski believes BookLikes is more personal than Goodreads because users can create a virtual bookshelf, update reading timelines, post blogs and even get 100 percent commission from sales through their chosen bookstore. Also, with new updates, BookLikes will become even more personalized by syncing with Facebook and other reading apps.

Even though Amazon has acquired Goodreads to help compete with other booksellers and incorporate other components for its users, competing booksellers and other consumers have additional options for social media reading experiences. These alternatives will still have to compete with Goodreads but also with each other in gaining customers. Many customers may remain loyal both to the site and to Amazon, while others, namely competing bookstores or consumers looking for a differently formatted site, will recognize options they may not have realized existed. Now, the hardest decision for these customers will be which platforms to use.

Interested in more about Goodreads? Check out our previous blog on the topic, “Authors Join Goodreads” by Emeli Warren!

Did You Know? 
Even though Amazon purchased Goodreads back in March, it seems the company is still working to fulfill their initial intended purpose for the buyout. Aside from wanting to use Goodreads to sell more books, the social media platform hasn’t been incorporated into their Kindle functionality. However, Goodreads now offers an additional option—Kindle Lending on Goodreads—and it has three basic requirements to join the group and partake in the shared titles:
1. You must create a “shelf” that is dedicated solely to books you are willing to share.
2. You must have books on the shelf. (This prevents people from joining the group and purely borrowing books, rather than also sharing them.)
3. You must live in the United States.
For those comparing it to Amazon Prime’s Kindle Lending Library, this group is not only free to join, but borrowing isn’t limited to one select list title per month, something Kindle readers may consider a deal breaker if thinking about Prime’s year-long membership. However, Prime users can borrow select books from public libraries for library-implemented time increments, or even loan books to fellow Kindle users for up to 14 days. (DYK by Emeli Warren)