July 30, 2014

Amazon Acquires Shelfari

By Josh Hadro

Last month, Amazon announced that it would purchase AbeBooks, the used and rare book seller, and in doing so would acquire that company’s 40 percent minority stake in social cataloging site LibraryThing (see InfoTech, LJ 9/1/08, p. 21). Then, for its second acquisition in August, the behemoth online retailer set its sights on LibraryThing’s direct competitor, Shelfari, for an undisclosed amount, according to the August 25 Seattle Post Intelligencer. (Amazon already had ties to Shelfari, having invested $1 million in the company back in February 2007.)

Both Shelfari and LibraryThing allow users to catalog their personal book collections and participate in a social network built around the connections linking books and users, though LibraryThing has somewhat more of a foothold in the library world. The immediate ramifications of the new relationship between the two social book-sharing sites are still unclear, but Shelfari’s access to and potential integration with Amazon’s data services pose distinct challenges to its competitors. As LibraryThing founder Tim Spalding wrote in a post to the “Talk” section of the LibraryThing site, “once the Amazon/Shelfari deal goes through, we are competing against Amazon.”

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