From James McQuivey on Forbes Blogs:
I fell asleep on a train yesterday and missed one of the most noteworthy events of the week: Amazon acquired Goodreads.
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I’ll do my best to be objective in answering all the anger being expressed on Twitter and in the trades when I point out that Goodreads was not saving itself for Amazon like some virginal tribute. It has been sitting there, all along, waiting for the right offer to come along. That’s how venture capital works, people.
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I have an important question to ask, one that I am stealing from author Nick Harkaway (@Harkaway) who wrote this on Twitter the morning after:
The point isn’t that Amazon bought GoodReads. The point is why GoodReads wasn’t snapped up by a publisher years ago.
The obvious reason is that based on the rumors of a purchase price in the “low eight-figures” as some are confidently whispering, most publishers weren’t really in a position to buy Goodreads. Unless they had seen this coming and had bought it many years ago. Let’s say back in 2010, when I first urged one of the Big Five (are there five now?) publishers to buy it.
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Digital disruption is built on — and therefore requires — direct digital customer relationships. Publishers haven’t had direct relationships of any kind historically — in fact, they are the first to admit that their customer was the book buyer at Barnes & Noble. This used to be a good thing until digital disruption came in and made it not so much a bad thing as an old thing. In the race to grab a customer relationship publishers have worked hard to build pages on Facebook, they’ve tried to reinject energy into their genre portal sites (Suvudu.com, anyone?). But none of them have managed to create anything as powerful and as useful to both themselves and to readers as Goodreads.
Only with a direct digital customer relationship can you learn from the customer in real-time, rapidly expand your total product experience, and easily offer new benefits to your customer.
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In each case, the solution to keeping up with digital disruption is to have a customer relationship, one that digital tools and platforms make incredibly cheap and increasingly powerful. Goodreads is one such tool. It still is, by the way, even now that publishers will be wary of it. And so I’ll offer this one piece of advice to publishers who may now feel like they should back away from Goodreads for fear that they are sleeping with the enemy: Don’t do it.
Link to the rest at Forbes Blogs