Amazon Snaps Up Goodreads, A Partner Apple Wanted

In the race for e-book supremacy, books are cool again and anyone who has a popular books app–or better, a social media network dedicated to readers–has some hot IP the big players want in on. That’s exactly what happened with Apple, Goodreads, and Amazon–with Amazon winning this round.

Amazon Snaps Up Goodreads, A Partner Apple Wanted

Steve Jobs once said, “people don’t read anymore.” He wasn’t the only tech pundit pronouncing books dead in the middle of the last decade, as people turned to Internet video, short blog posts, and apps for news and entertainment. But then something interesting happened: E-book sales skyrocketed thanks to high-quality devices like the Kindle and the maturation of e-book stores like iBooks.


The e-book wars see no sign of abating and the ability to form partnerships with the big book players so tech giants can reach more readers have never been as important. Thats why the bibliophile social networking site Goodreads recently sold to Amazon for a deal worth up to $200 million, by some reports.

The thing is, Apple was already in talks with Goodreads to use their data to power the iBook store’s ratings and reviews when Amazon (whether getting inside wind of the talks or completely unbeknownst to them) swept in and made Goodreads a deal–provided they cease all talks with possible partners.

As Jessica E. Lessin and Evelyn M. Rusli for The Wall Street Journal report:

Over the past year, Apple and Goodreads had begun discussing integrating Goodreads’ service, which allows users to share and rate what they are reading, into Apple’s iBookstore, which sells digital books, according to people familiar with the matter.

Goodreads had proposed its reviews and ratings appear within iTunes when users searched for a title, one of the people said. iTunes has already integrated Rotten Tomatoes movie ratings in such a way. Apple was entertaining the idea, but talks didn’t progress much, two of the people said.

Around March, Apple pinged Goodreads to move forward with the talks, these people said. iTunes officials were perplexed when Goodreads executives went quiet, two of the people said.

During that period, Goodreads had cozied up to Amazon, which expressed interest in buying the company. Amazon insisted Goodreads cease talking to others while a deal was done, the people said.

From a developer’s perspective, the thwarting of an Apple/Goodreads partnership doesn’t mean much (that is, unless you also happen to have a books review social media app–in which case you might want to give Apple a call) but it does underscore the urgency at which partnerships are made or broken in today’s tech world.

As for any developers who use the Goodreads APIs, you shouldn’t be affected. That is, of course, unless the battle for e-book supremacy reaches insane lows and Amazon insists no Goodreads APIs are used on iOS devices–but that seems very unlikely…for now.

Want to stay on top of Apple’s partnership deals and see how they affect developers? We’re tracking ongoing Apple partnerships here: Apple’s New Technology Partners: What Developers Need To Know.

[Image: Flickr user Kurtis Garbutt]