Amazon tightens its chokehold

The online bookseller gobbles up Goodreads, the largest independent reader community on the Web

Published March 28, 2013 9:05PM (EDT)

A shudder went through the entire world of publishing Thursday afternoon, after Amazon announced the purchase of the social reader site Goodreads. When people who normally eschew Hitler analogies compare an Amazon move to the Nazi invasion of Poland, it's time to pay attention. Or as author Alex Irvine immediately tweeted,"Next, publishers will be required to dig own graves."

Goodreads, according to Salon's own publishing maven, Laura Miller, "was the single major readers' community independent of Amazon." But maintaining that independence hasn't been easy. Up until January 2012, Goodreads used the Amazon Product Advertising API as its primary source for book data. But as Jon Mitchell explained last year, getting in bed with Amazon comes with some rather stringent handcuffs. For one thing, Goodreads wasn't allowed to use that data in conjunction with any site or app "designed or intended for use with a mobile phone or other handheld device."

Even worse, users of Amazon's book data aren't allowed to link to any other online bookseller.

“Our goal is to be an open place for all readers to discover and buy books from all retailers, both online and offline,” the company told PaidContent's Laura Owen last January.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but presumably, Goodreads' open linking policy will soon be history.

Time to check out LibraryThing?

UPDATE: Or maybe not. I am informed by a reader that Amazon owns 40 percent of LibraryThing.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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