Amazon Knows Good Books?

CaterpillarSnooping around I discovered that Amazon has published its very own list of the top 100 books you must read before ordering anything from Powell’s. Of course, it is a true saying that top 100 lists are like assholes: everyone has one. One of the recent lists that made a lot of press is the Modern Library Top 100. This list, it has been noted, tends to favor authors published by Modern Library or Random House and shows a preference for old dead white men. Flawed, for sure, but still a good list to follow if you’re out to read the top novels in English.

Interestingly, Amazon sells books. Is it possible that their list of the top 100 books might encourage reading certain titles that are easily ordered from Amazon, especially when most of the books are available for the Amazon Kindle and ordering your copy is only a click away? Actually, the correct question, sadly,  is: Would you be surprised if it didn’t? Let’s see; here is the list:

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Amazon Buys Goodreads

Amazon Buys Goodreads, Agenda of World Conquest Marches On
By Matthew Yglesias at Slate

GoodreadsAmazon is acquiring GoodReads, a nifty social book recommendation engine that many of my friends with book-length attention spans love.
The somewhat curious thing about this is that GoodReads’ primary revenue source appears to be Amazon affiliate links. But they don’t have an exclusive deal from Amazon, as it stands the “buy” options link you to a number of sites. If GoodReads is becomes fully integrated as an Amazon-only property, it won’t necessarily make any money at all but it will cut off sales to other companies while perhaps providing Amazon’s algorithmic recommendations with valuable strategic insights. More grandly, it’s a foray into the world of social networking. Once upon a time, Amazon was but a humble bookseller. Now it’s a world-destroying retail juggernaut. Once upon a time, Kindle was but a humble book-reading-implement. Now it’s a full-fledged tablet platform. Today, GoodReads is about book recommendations. But tomorrow could it dethrone Facebook?

Probably not. But maybe. Amazon is an impressive company. Freed from shareholder demands to show meaningful profits, and led by a strategically daring and technologically skilled team they’re the competitor I don’t think anyone wants to face.

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