Amazon Buys Goodreads

A blog about business and economics.
March 28 2013 4:50 PM

Amazon Buys Goodreads, Agenda of World Conquest Marches On

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Jeff Bezos, CEO of AMAZON, introduces new Kindle Fire HD Family and Kindle Paper white during the AMAZON press conference on September 06, 2012 in Santa Monica, California. A

Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages

Amazon is acquiring GoodReads, a nifty social book recommendation engine that many of my friends with book-length attention spans love.

The somewhat curious thing about this is that GoodReads' primary revenue source appears to be Amazon affiliate links. But they don't have an exclusive deal from Amazon, as it stands the "buy" options link you to a number of sites. If GoodReads is becomes fully integrated as an Amazon-only property, it won't necessarily make any money at all but it will cut off sales to other companies while perhaps providing Amazon's algorithmic recommendations with valuable strategic insights. More grandly, it's a foray into the world of social networking. Once upon a time, Amazon was but a humble bookseller. Now it's a world-destroying retail juggernaut. Once upon a time, Kindle was but a humble book-reading-implement. Now it's a full-fledged tablet platform. Today, GoodReads is about book recommendations. But tomorrow could it dethrone Facebook?

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Probably not. But maybe. Amazon is an impressive company. Freed from shareholder demands to show meaningful profits, and led by a strategically daring and technologically skilled team they're the competitor I don't think anyone wants to face.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.