Amazon Buys Shelfari

For the last 7 days I’ve been carrying around an Amazon Kindle e-book reader, thanks to a new loan program from the NCSU Library. I’ve fallen in love with the device, and in these 7 days I’ve read much more than I expected. I’m also a big fan of Shelfari, a site that lets you manage your books on “shelves” (much like Delicious Library on the Mac) with shelves for Read, Plan to Read, Wish List, and so on. In the last week, as I start a new book on the Kindle (the one I have had over 50 books preloaded on it by other students) I’ve had to log into Shelfari and manually add the book onto my shelf for books that I’m currently reading. This feeds me reviews and suggestions on related books.

A few moments ago, as I filled out a rating for a book I just finished (Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely) I started wondering if there was an opprotunity here. What if Shelfari could tap into your Kindle’s information, automatically filling your shelves with books you have on the device. This would deliver an experience quite a bit closer to the way Netflix monitors what movies you have at home, what movies your friends are watching, and what movies you have listed in your queue. I brushed the thought off, though, figuring that for an outfit as small as Shelfari to get so intimately involved with Amazon’s systems would need a level of access that Amazon would be reluctant to give. I also figured that Amazon wouldn’t want to invite such direct competition to their own “Media Library” service.

No more than 3 minutes later, I came across a post in the Shelfari Discussion Group announcing that Amazon has aquired Shelfari!

Amanda writes,

We just announced that Amazon.com has acquired Shelfari! This is a very exciting time at Shelfari and there are a lot of new opportunities in the future that will benefit all members. In the meantime, members will continue to have access to the great community and tools that you’ve always known and used on the site. You can continue to build virtual bookshelves and socially interact around the books you care about at http://www.shelfari.com/.

We look forward to working with Amazon to continue with our mission of building great communities that celebrate books. Thanks for your interest in Shelfari and Amazon.com.

Happy Reading,

It makes sense… as Shelfari has been using Amazon’s repository of information, even providing “Buy This Book at Amazon” links for titles you come across. It will be interesting to see if Amazon leaves Shelfari as it’s own entity, much like Yahoo did when it aquired Flickr, or if it will pull the developers and existing code into Amazon’s own Media Library site. I think that a lot of users would like to see Shelfari remain independent, but as a heavy user of Amazon (as I think most web-savvy readers are) and a hopeful owner of the second revision of the Kindle, I can’t help but hope that Shelfari gets much more tightly integrated into Amazon’s print and electronic book sales systems.

Chris Owens


  1. This is good news as I’m ready to try a Kindle if I like the next version. I agree that Shelfari should be integrated with the Kindle (but they must add a Kindle version link of books read/reading/own).

    Amazon also invested in LibraryThing, right? That could be the next acquisition which might be combined under the Shelfari name.

    Thanks for the heads-up Chris. I’m still reading with my iPhone but let’s see if Amazon can change that habit soon.

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