Home » Amazon, Kobo, Reviews » Kobo stops using the Amazon-owned Goodreads API

Kobo stops using the Amazon-owned Goodreads API

30 August 2013

From GigaOm:

Kobo is no longer using the Goodreads API to provide book ratings and reviews on its websites and apps. Maybe that’s not surprising, since Goodreads was acquired by Amazon in March.

. . . .

That means no more Goodreads ratings and reviews on Kobo book pages. It sounds as if the decision was driven by Kobo, not Amazon: The company’s chief content officer Michael Tamblyn tells Good E-reader that Kobo might re-add the Goodreads API in the future. And back in March when Amazon acquired Goodreads, the companies told me they would leave the Goodreads API open and would not shut off the Kobo feed.

Link to the rest at GigaOm and thanks to JR for the tip.

Since PG was not that familiar with the Kobo site, he went there and looked at several books. In the absence of any reviews, the only information about the book’s content was the publisher’s summary. Not a compelling sales environment without some sort of third-party comment on the book’s quality.

PG doesn’t think he would have cut off Goodreads reviews (as little as he likes some of them) without having a substitute ready to plug into the site. Sending a potential purchaser elsewhere to learn more about a book’s quality risks that purchaser never returning to actually buy a book.

Amazon, Kobo, Reviews

37 Comments to “Kobo stops using the Amazon-owned Goodreads API”

  1. PG doesn’t think he would have cut off Goodreads reviews (as little as he likes some of them) without having a substitute ready to plug into the site. Sending a potential purchaser elsewhere to learn more about a book’s quality risks that purchaser never returning to actually buy a book.

    Thank you for my laugh of the afternoon, PG.

  2. Kneel before Zon!

    Kobo is rapidly becoming a waste of time. In fact I could say that about pretty much every e-store except the ‘Zon.
    B&N was halfway respectable until last spring, then sales went to zero and have flatlined ever since. Kobo’s been marginally better but at the current rate I won’t see a payout for another year or so.

    Perhaps this will change when I finally release the 2nd book, but for now I think it’s back to KDP select. Might as well make $$ off those loans if nobody’s buying from the other sites.

    • Kobo is possibly the worst storefront out of any of the book e-tailers in my opinion. Smashwords is pretty bad, but Kobo is just…awful. And plain.

      The reason I love Amazon isn’t because I move more books through them, it’s because they have product pages that almost overload you with information, and on top of that, they have a sorcerer working for them that can read my mind and tell me exactly what book or product I am looking for, even if I didn’t know I was looking for it!

      • Worse than iTunes?

        • iTunes is pretty bad from what I hear, but I don’t own a single Apple product and I don’t install iTunes on any of the computers in the house. When I look at the iTunes or iBookstore pages through a web browser, they definitely remind me of the Kobo pages. Different colors but the same lack of detail.

          • Same discovery here. No sales on Smashwords, a few sales on Kobo. Lulu outsells them by a long chalk, and Amazon (of course) reigns.

            (Oh, and I see Apple buyers finding my books at Lulu.)

  3. The reviews at goodreads were once thoughtful. I wouldnt, if I had a business model, want to send people into the offal pit of too many goodreads screeders. There are enough already, elsewhere and everywhere. Sometimes I wonder at the time some take to choke the review system with their personal politics and pique of the week. Seriously.

    My sense is that AMZ bought goodreads to kill them dead, as they were competition. In corp life, that’s the way of life; buy up what takes people away from your products, let them languish, and eventually just write off as ‘bad business loss’ the cost of having bought them.

    just my .02

    • Goodreads is a place to discuss books. Amazon is a place that sells books (and more). Interest in a book on Goodreads may lead to sales of that book elsewhere. I can’t see how this would be competition to Amazon or any other bookseller, but perhaps I misunderstood your post?

    • Margaret Rainforth

      ^^Agree. I removed my account from Goodreads; I don’t want to be associated with a company that permits trash on their site.

      • @Margaret and others concerned about Goodreads: I fear you’ll have few places to go since trolls have become ubiquitous on most sites that permit unmoderated postings. On the other hand they are remarkably easy to avoid and ignore. I’ve been on Goodreads for six years now, have posted more than 1300 reviews, (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1711431-eric-w) have a circle of some 250 friends, and find it to be a delightful source of intellectual and friendly discussion. Yes, there are some groups that indulge in tasteless drivel, but they are easily avoided. One is not forced to join and there are many excellent moderated groups that have none of the behavior that concerns you. The idea that GR could somehow be frightening I find truly bizarre. On Goodreads, as with Facebook et al, *you* chose your circle of friends and decide how you want to use the site.
        I have visited the GR Bullies website but find that it consists mostly of people who, when they see a mob, run toward it rather than away from it which is my normal reaction. There are many authors on Goodreads who get much from it, write excellent reviews, and I’m pleased to fan them and have them among my friends. There are others who have difficulty accepting that in the real world, away from their obviously sheltered existence, there are varieties of taste and some people like to voice their dissatisfaction in less than genteel ways. They are easily ignored, but ironically, are probably good for a book’s sales. I know I’ve bought books after reading a bad review and I suspect many others do as well. The “if-you-don’t-play-by-my-rules-or-I’ll-take-my-ball-and-go-home syndrome I find sad. My philosophy, which I’ve found to be very useful, was developed over many years as a FIFA soccer referee and can be summed up by “don’t get into a pissing match with a skunk,” since you both lose.

        • Eric – I believe your post sums up the reality of Goodreads, and of the web in general, extremely well. I myself have dabbled in Goodreads over the last couple of years and have encountered nothing worth getting upset about. All social sites are a reflection of the public at large, and we human beings are a rich tapestry of diversity, +in every sense of the word. Part of maturing into an adult is acquiring the ability to deal with that tapestry like an adult, without running away with our toys.
          As it happens I don’t rate any of the current crop of social reading sites, goodreads or booklikes etc. and am waiting for the next generation which I hope will do a better job of enabling readers to find like minded readers.

  4. Somebody better start being proactive instead of reactive, or Amazon will be the only one left standing. Is it the merger of publishing with technology that they can’t seem to get their arms around? The freaking device is a delivery system, but their customers are buying books. There’s a disconnect here and it’s obvious. I’m going to guess B&N’s problem was they had tech guys running operations. Kobo looks like a similar business model to me. I was buying all my books on my nook, then B&N stopped updating new releases. How stupid can you get?

    • I think they don’t quite grasp that the power now lies in the billion wallets of consumers, not a handful of manhattan glass towers.

  5. Yeah, seems that all the competition to Amazon is trying to fail. Agreed, PG, Kobo’s product page is close to worthless. No author bio either. I’m sure they’re thinking about it. But even if GR isn’t that great, it should only be cut off if Kobo has something better. Or at least something.

  6. They hired Ratbert, and forgot to hire Asok.


  7. I’m not surprised Kobo pulled the plug on the Goodreads reviews after Amazon bought the site. Yes, they should have had a substitute in mind before turning off the Goodreads connection. Not having that wasn’t a very great business decision.

    That said, I’m glad to see the Goodreads connection cut. They need to clean house there, big time. I’ll wait to see what they come up with for the review mechanism before deciding to list books with an ISBN number on Kobo’s site or not.

  8. Are you all kidding? Not having Goodreads as a review source is a GOOD thing for Kobo. Goodreads is a cesspit of fake ratings and false reviews. Good riddance!

  9. I just visited Kobo and the first book I visited was: Never Go Back – (Jack Reacher 18).

    There is a clear link to Goodreads reviews right under the big book Title.

    Then I saw the price … €18 !!!!!!!!!! OMG I left and won’t be back anytime soon !!

  10. I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I think, as PG pointed out, cutting off the review stream without a replacement is dumb. On the other hand, Goodreads is a sewer, so Kobo distancing themselves can’t be all bad.

  11. Some of my books still have star ratings at Kobo, so they do seem to have their own system.

  12. Her article is based on my article and interview with Kobo at their New York Launch event. It is not a permanent suspension of the API, but they did it during their website redesign because of database issues. Tamblyn was cagey about whether they would implement it again or go with someone else. The only thing that works with reviews right now is their android app, because its designed exclusively for user generated reviews by people who just use that particular app.

  13. Nice work trolls!! This week you’ve driven several thousand members from badreads and Kobo has stopped the badreads feed because of the bogus reviews costing Amazon millions in revenues. Maybe this is the kick in the butt Amazon needed to realize the trolls on both sites are a serious liability. No forums have survived a serious troll infestation like the one now in the happy little Amazon family of websites. When they all get back to work on Tuesday and see the losses caused by you trolls I suspect there will be big changes, changes that will root out the criminals who have just this week caused huge damages in members and revenues. Got a new sub title for my book “Suffer Not a Troll to Live.” The Stalker Troll Purge of 2013. Like it? Enjoy your last weekend of Stalking losers.

    • Would you care to clarify as to what you mean? I couldn’t really follow the point of your argument too well (too much rage, not enough information), but I am curious as to your take on things based on your anger.

      No, I am not trolling you. I am genuinely curious as to what you are talking about that has your ire raised.

      • The entire group, mysteries and thrillers, 4000 members left Goodreads because of trolls invading their group and set up shop on Facebook.
        Kobo stopped the API feed from goodreads because all the reviews are trash because the trolls use them to attack authors. I’m sorry if I was obscure. 🙂
        Therefore the trolls have done huge damage to Amazon this week. Amazon up until now would do nothing about trolls stalking, bullying and harassing authors with the intent of destroying reputations, careers, livelihood and the dreams of fledgling writers. Now I think they will.

        • Rick–is there an online article or blog about this event? Goodreads frightens me but i do love thrillers and mysteries and if there is a FB group dedicated to that would love to join in on the conversation. Also, reading about a Goodreads meltdown would sort of confirm me in my instinctive recoil from it. thanks!

        • Ah this kind of all blew up because of the way some idiots acted towards an author (Lauren Howard). Not that the members of Goodreads haven’t done this sort of thing before. It’s not a very friendly place for authors. I have an account there but really never go there anymore because of the nonsense I’ve witnessed first-hand in their message boards.

          And Rick, thank you for clarifying. Your first post was pretty rage-y and I have seen you post comments here before that have been thoughtful and respectful, so I wasn’t sure if you were yelling at us (TPV commenters) or having a little mini-stroke at the keyboard 😉

  14. Kobo is updating their storefront. The missing ratings and reviews will be back once the migration they’re doing is complete.

    They’re fixing a lot of the complaints authors had about losing sales rank when updating books, etc. It’s taking a bit for everything to show up in the new system.

    Everything will be fine.

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