Friday, March 29th, 2013

Amazon buys Goodreads: what does that mean for LibraryThing?

Amazon announced yesterday that they’re buying Goodreads, LibraryThing’s younger brother and competitor. This has the potential to change things for LibraryThing. We’re interested in hearing your thoughts on how we can survive and thrive in a Amazon-Goodreads world.

See the open thread about this: LibraryThing: How to succeed in an Amazon/Goodreads world. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Labels: amazon


  1. Laura Kopperud says:

    I don’t know what exactly it means, but I can tell you as a member of both, LibraryThing rocks in comparison. Good Reads already feels more like Amazon or Netflix–how independent are it’s recommendations and will they become more of a sales/ad venue? I think for ‘real’ readers, LibraryThing is better at giving you options to sort and rate the books you read. And to be able to look at another person’s library to see what you should borrow has led me to some wonderful reads that I don’t see on Good Reads….Just my humble opinion. (Long Live LibraryThing!)

  2. Becky says:

    So, I’m trying to migrate my GR files to LibraryThing (just bought a lifetime membership). My csv is not transferring tags, reviews, ratings – just titles, authors. This is a huge problem, since I’m trying to import over 1,000 titles. Will there be an upload interface or can someone advise me what to do?

  3. Jan says:

    Reading this Amazon/Goodreads news inspired me to go look at my GR account (which I RARELY use). I was shocked to see that my “bookshelf” has 548 books, most of which I’ve never even heard of, much less added to my shelf. Where the heck does GR get the titles with which it has apparently populated my account? I have to say that I’ve certainly NEVER seen LT add books to my account, so maybe I just don’t understand how GR works…whatever it is, I’m thankful LT is **not** GR. Sheesh! No wonder I use LT and not GR! I love LT, although I agree that it is a little clunky to navigate…not a problem for me, it’s great for my purposes. GOOD JOB!!

  4. HellCold says:

    I just want to stress the importance of having a more versatile import function here, as Becky said above. This should bring you some very happy users.

  5. Esquiress says:

    Interestingly, Shelfari, another book site, is also owned by Amazon. Eventually, all Shelfari users will be required to sign in using Amazon credentials, and those credentials have caused a lot of problems. I myself never changed over and use the “old school” login and will until I absolutely can’t. Maybe GoodReads will have to use an Amazon sign-in now, allegedly to support importing Kindle and other Amazon book purchases to the site itself, like Shelfari does.

  6. I just bought a lifetime membership. I never knew about LT having a membership fee,but I don’t mind paying something because I love and look forward to winning free books to review, listing all my books and posting my reviews on here for fellow readers, and supporting small businesses.

    How do you stay above water with Goodreads being acquired by Amazon? Keep doing what you are doing, have a button on the front page to be directed to memberships and list the benefits (for newbies), and keep the conversation going!

  7. Amy says:

    I’m a new LT user because I’m escaping the GR/Amazon monster. I’m also trying to import my goodreads csv file… and it’s importing only the first 24 books – with no covers – no matter how long I leave my website and computer up and running so things can wait in the queue. :/ I can’t add all 1200+ titles to LT by hand… what are my options?

    • Jeremy says:

      Our import queue is pretty well swamped at the moment. We’re working on it, but it’s going to take a while to work through the huge number of books people are trying to import.

  8. Melly Mel says:

    I noticed there is no mention in this post that Amazon also has a fairly significant ownership stake in LibraryThing as well.

    • Jeremy says:

      Amazon has an indirect but real stake in LibraryThing—they bought Abebooks, who were our first minority partner. People keep reporting that Amazon has 40%. That’s simply not true—it fails to take account of our second funder, Bowker. (Our founder, Tim, remains the majority stakeholder; we can’t say precisely how the rest divides up).

  9. Bernadette says:

    Thanks for the info about the import queue being clogged by fellow refugees from Good Reads…I’ll wait a few days before trying to import my catalogue.

    As for what LT can do to differentiate itself the biggest thing is to stay independent of the big A. I don’t want to be sold to anyone, I don’t want an unreasonable number of ads/links to A’s products and services and I want to live in a world where other options are acknowledged.

    I’m happy to pay for an account, will in fact pay an annual fee rather than the one-off life time fee because it will presumably do more good if you have a regular income

    Oh and the 40% ownership of LT figure comes from the Wikipedia entry on Amazon…perhaps someone should update it with a more realistic figure if allowed

  10. Barbara says:

    Another GR refugee here. Thank you for the 1 year free trial membership. Once the congestion clears up a bit I will import my books and see if I can adapt to a new environment. I hope it works out and I would not mind paying a membership fee if I end up using this site even half as much as I did GR, which was multiple times per day.

  11. Meredy says:

    I can’t offer an opinion on what it means as far as competition goes, but for me as a user it’s no contest. I found Goodreads cumbersome, boring, and juvenile. I used it a few times and then fled.

    In contrast, I liked LT at first sight and have spent some time here nearly every day since joining. The more I put in, the more useful and enjoyable it becomes.

    I like having the direct-to-Amazon link on the works pages, and I know that some commercial tie-ins are inevitable, but there’s a feeling of independence that is a big part of the appeal for me.

    Maybe I’m just an idealist, but I think that all LT has to do is keep on being what it is (and, of course, slowly chipping away at the development wishlist) and it will continue to distinguish itself from that other site in ways that real readers will appreciate.

  12. Lori says:

    Been a member of GR from the early days. The problem, for me, is not that they sold– they’re a business; rather the problem is that they sold to Amazon. Too dominant for my tastes. But I have to say that I am concerned about LibraryThing as I’ve read that Amazon owns 40%. So I worry that it’s just a matter of time before LT goes to Amazon as well.

  13. Becky says:

    In the process of importing my books from GR . . . great easy new interface! I’ve had 142 books imported since last night, but there are still 1,200 in my queue. Is this just because of the backlog of new member imports?

  14. Jan Elkins says:

    As a librarian, LibraryThing seems like a more professional or scholarly site. I also have goodreads which I use as more of a social site. I think there is room for both depending on your needs.

  15. Sukey says:

    The 40% figure is from the New York Times as well…interesting though about GR…

    “ was founded by Otis Chandler, grandson of the last family owner of The Los Angeles Times, and the woman he later married, Elizabeth Khuri Chandler. They met after graduating from Stanford University.

    Trained as an engineer, Mr. Chandler was always interested in starting his own social media company, and his first job included working on a dating site. Ms. Chandler trained as a dancer and worked as a writer and editor. But what they shared was a passionate love of books, and they quickly realized that books bound others as well.”

    And from Friday’s edition on the GR buyout…
    The deal is made more significant because Amazon already owned part or all of Goodreads’ competitors, Shelfari and LibraryThing. It bought Shelfari in 2008. It also owns a portion of LibraryThing as a result of buying companies that already owned a stake in the site. Both are much smaller and have grown much more slowly than Goodreads.

  16. Lori says:

    I started out at Goodreads but have found everything to be so much better at LT. I’ve found a warm & sincere community here, not to mention enough book recommendations to last me for a few years! LT truly feels member-driven, something I never felt at GR.

  17. I’m worried about the pressure from all these new users to make LT more like GoodReads, that is, a social site. Librarything is about books and readers, not “friends” in the Facebook definition of friends, and that’s why I love it.

  18. Scribble Orca says:

    Library Thing apparently has a rep as a great book cataloguing site, but less than terrific user interface for socialising, which is very dependent on user definition. Talking about lit fic books in lit fic circles tends to have a somewhat different etiquette than in genre fic circles, but essentially GR users still value courtesy. It’s an opinion site, and people choose their own criteria about which to evaluate books – sure, there are groups for non-book topics, but fundamentally, the GR user interface has “borrowed” a lot from Facebook, and this has facilitated site navigability and interaction. If these are important for LT and its users, it might be worthwhile considering. The GR users who are moving to LT are doing so because of grave concerns about data mining, neutrality, reviews being used elsewhere, freedom-of-review speech being curtailed etc, and since they value these things, will be aware that LT has a different approach.

  19. TyShana says:

    I really liked the GR and how it was interactive with other readers. I am now disappointed with GR. I will have to update LT and use this as a resource for books

  20. Dean MacAllister says:

    The flood will continue. Most people over there (GR) are wondering if they should have more than one profile, in case they don’t like the way the takeover goes. You guys should see this as a positive thing… as, when this site swells, it should become worth millions….and then Amazon will contact the owner and the circle of life will continue… 🙂

  21. Jenny says:

    I have had LY and GR accounts since about 2007, but have primarily (almost daily) used Goodreads since then, finding LT a bit clunky and confusing at first. However, that was more than five years ago.

    I see there’s an import feature, so I’ll wait a few days (weeks?) for the backlog to clear before trying to import my GR data. Will all of it – including reviews – come along?

    Initially I was put off by the fee, but now I am happy to pay it, because (a) it’s pay-what-you-want, and (b) it’s a valuable service that I use frequently – that’s worth something.

    Though I’m wary of the phrase “social reading,” I do value recommendations from people I know over and above recommendations/reviews from strangers, and I like reading my friends’ reviews on Goodreads. I hope some of them will migrate over and begin to use LT too.

  22. Stephanie says:

    I love you LT! I have never felt the need to stray from your wonderfulness.Amazon bought GR. So?

  23. Bana says:

    I opened an LT account years ago and started to catalogue my books, but not all had ISBNs and I didn’t want to go down the route of buying a bar code scanners. So I lost interest. I never used GR, though did have an account because friends of mine had accounts. The one thing I’d love LT to do is create an app where we can use smartphones as a barcode scanner to enter book information.
    Recently, my lifestyle has changed some what and I find I have more time for reading. I’d be interested in recommendations from other users based on books I’ve/or they’ve read and enjoyed. Looking forward to renewing my relationship with LT. Thanks for the free year membership.

  24. Mike says:

    Just opened an account here, one of the exiting GR members. I liked GR, was an active reviewer, but the Amazon takeover I can’t stomach. However, as a realist I understand that LT could become fully-incorporated into the God Machine someday as well. I am aware of the rough-% ownership mix. With that in mind, I am NOT transferring my 300 or so reviews to this site. (they now reside in 2 old-school three ring binders:-). I’ve added only recently read book’s and will add going forward. Bottom line: I am very comfortable providing helpful reviews, but I will not be used as a sales mechanism. If this site goes, or begins to evolve to, commercialism as the main mission, I will flee as quickly as I did GR. If LT proves to me it is a READER FIRST site that is in it to stay, I’ll consider posting my inventory of reviews. I hope others coming over to LT will keep a close watch. Everyone seems willing, make that eager, to cash in, principles be d*mned.

  25. Like many I have a Goodreads account…mainly because it was required by a company I wanted to access for early review books. Since I was never able to import my LT database, and found it annoying to use I very rarely do. The fact that it was been bought by Amazon disturbs me, but then everything about Amazon does and I generally try to avoid using them in any way.

    I hope LT maintains it’s independence. I’m a life member already but would happily pay a small monthly/annual fee to ensure it stays that way.

  26. Lisa says:

    I’ve been a member of LibraryThing for five years, and I love it. I especially love the warm and caring community that exists on the threads (Club Read and 75 Book Challenge, especially). Instead of Facebook-like blurbs, we have real conversations. Many of us have arranged meetups and whenever I travel, I know I will have friends there to meet for coffee and take me to bookstores. I realize that some of you feel burned by Goodreads and fear the same things here, but I hope you will give LT a chance. It’s not the same, different interface, different ethics, but it is a good place for book lovers. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And after trying it for free, I was delighted to pay the $25, and I’ve made gifts of memberships too. I even have the tshirt. 🙂

  27. Christopher says:

    The best two things LibraryThing could do to be competitive and relevant is to be your user experience cleaner and easier to use and be active where the people are. Simplify the website (just like the new logo) and remember, less is more. Not to be critical, but the LibraryThing site is not all that customer-friendly and does not look very current. There is a ton of information on the site and it can be overwhelming to find what I’m looking for. The easier your site is to use, the more first time visitors and current customers will stay. An app or mobile option would be amazing as well. Just don’t change the great programs you have in place. They are unique and special. The trick here is to make sure people know about them and hopefully a clean and easy site. I’d suggest more seamless integration into social channels, like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. Its not about changing the LibraryThing soul, just making sure other readers know about LT and want to use it.

    I’m a big fan and suggest LT to all of my reader friends. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  28. I wrote a book about Goodreads, specially for authors. It’s interesting because lots of authors want to know how to use Goodreads, but actually readers I have spoken to about both sites seem to be very passionate about LibraryThing. I would imagine that other book sales sites such as Barnes & Noble may cast an eye over LibraryThing with a view to emulating Amazon’s purchase of Goodreads. Bear in mind, though, that Amazon did nothing useful with Shelfari when they bought that!

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