Goodreads has made the rather surprising announcement that it will no longer accept book information from Amazon after January 30th 2012. Goodreads founder and CEO Otis Chandler says that the site is finding the terms linked with Amazon’s data to be increasingly restrictive, and that although the change might be ‘painful’, it should be better for the site in the long-run.
Amazon data is currently used to provide data for a wide range of books on Goodreads. For many of these books, alternative sources will be found and there is no real problem. But for some books, particularly those that are published only as Kindle editions and which therefore don’t really exist outside of Amazon, the problem could be more pressing. Judging by the information released by Goodreads so far, it’s not yet clear precisely what will happen to these books.
Goodreads has launched a ‘rescue me’ service, allowing users to rescue books that are in danger of losing data when the Amazon tap is turned off at the end of the month. The site says it is importing approximately 14m ISBNs from alternative sources in the next few days, so the current list of books needing to be ‘rescued’ should come down considerably. You can find Goodreads’ ‘rescue me’ tool here.
It looks so far like the only people who need to worry about this are those whose books exist exclusively as Kindle editions. Chandler says that Goodreads “anticipates” keeping these, but it remains to be seen what mechanism is found to enable this. The wider implication of this change, however, is that Goodreads has thrown the pieces of the puzzle into the air and it’s not yet clear where they will land. Given Amazon’s status as one of the leading booksellers in the world, and given the continued growth of Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), it looks for the moment like a real schism is opening up.
So what do you need to do if you have books on Goodreads? At the moment, it looks like the best bet is to head over there, click ‘rescue me’ if that label appears next to any of your books, and then keep an eye on developments as January 30th approaches. It looks like a lot of work is coming up for a lot of people. So far, Amazon hasn’t responded to the development, and it’ll be interesting to see whether they make any effort to keep Goodreads onside. If they don’t, are we starting to see a real divide opening up between Amazon and other book-related sites?