Amazon is the king of online booksellers and, by most accounts, the most feared player in publishing. Yet last week it shelled out a reported $150 million to buy up Goodreads, a social network for book nerds with a devoted but far from enormous 16 million members. So why is most of the media convinced this is a brilliant deal?
You’ve probably heard a few of the answers already. Namely, Amazon gets to keep a potential competitor out of the hands of rivals like Apple or Barnes and Noble, while snapping up a vast trove of data on Goodreads’ members.
But there’s a more fundamental issue at play here, too. Today, the publishing industry survives on super fans — book worms who read far more than most Americans, and who tell their friends what to read as well. By picking up Goodreads, Amazon gets to tap into those super fans. Simple.