Amazon Kills Shelfari
It’s official, the day that I’ve been dreading for several years has arrived. Amazon, which owns both Goodreads and Shelfari, has decided that it no longer cares to maintain Shelfari. Officially, “Shelfari is merging with Goodreads.” But let’s call it what it is: a shutdown. I feel like I’m losing a best friend and I’m pissed off.
For those of you who don’t know about Shelfari, it is a book cataloguing and discussion site. I’m a member of both it and Goodreads, and they each offer different things that I like and use. What makes Shelfari special is its passionate and supportive community of serious readers. Goodreads is great but ,when it comes to book recommendations, I always turn to my Shelfari friends. Why? Because my Goodreads friend list is populated primarily by Facebook friends — many of whom read relatively little or and have vastly different tastes.
Shelfari is superior to Goodreads when it comes to discussions. The Shelfari site had the ability to “nest” replies within discussion threads, thus allowing for more in-depth and active discussions. It has been my experience that Shelfari members are much more serious about their reading (on average) and also are more courteous and respectful. There’s a lot of shaming that occurs on Goodreads that doesn’t happen on Shelfari. For example, check out this article from Book Riot that came out last year.
The worst thing about the whole “merger” is that Amazon is giving Shelfari members just two months to move all their data over to Goodreads. I actively participate in two Shelfari groups that have been operating since 2008/2009 and have thousands of discussion threads, challenges, and games. The move will likely kill one of those groups completely and severely impact the other. So two months just doesn’t cut it – it is rude and sends a message that Amazon doesn’t truly care about some of its best customers.
I get that Goodreads is a giant compared to Shelfari and it makes economic sense to be prioritized. Yet, Amazon should know that Shelfari members are VERY voracious readers. Last year I read over 170 books, many specifically recommended by members in my various Shelfari groups and I buy most of my books through Amazon. One of my groups has 21,000 members listed on the roster and the other group has several thousand. And those are just two of the groups on the site. That is a lot of potential income. How costly can it be to maintain both sites and keep readers (who spend lots of money on Amazon) happy?
Right now I’m wallowing in self-pity and watching my fellow Shelfari members grieve the loss of a site that has become so special to so many of us. So, thanks to Amazon for destroying something that we all love. From what I’m seeing on the discussion threads, it looks like you have sent a lot of potential business to LibraryThing and Leafmarks.
I know a bunch of my Shelfari friends are follow us here. What are your thoughts?
UPDATE 5/31/16: Turns out that Leafmarks (mentioned above) is also shutting down. Members received an email notifying them of the closure of the site effective July 1. I ultimately migrated to Good Reads since I already had all my books there. I also use Library thing but all my groups are on GR. I feel bad for all the people who decided to migrate to Leafmarks rather than one of the two more established sites. Now they have to make yet another move.
Feeling lost and want to know where to go? Here are some options:
Good Reads: You can track books, join book discussions, add friends/connections, get recommendations. Good Reads has a social media feel and since I’ve been active there it appears that they are making their interface look more and more like facebook. Downsides: 1) It’s owned by Amazon (that can be a plus depending on your outlook), 2) it is huge so hard to maintain those close connections that you likely had at Shelfari, 3) no nested discussions and don’t expect it anytime soon. Good reads users are very vociferous about their dislike of nested discussions. Upsides: 1) Amazon has clearly made it the platform of choice so it will be around for a while, 2) great database with options to add different editions and covers, 3) lots of authors are there so plenty of opportunity to interact with favorite authors, 4) a wide variety of discussion groups, and 5) they have a mobile app.
Library Thing: You can join groups, track books, join book discussions, participate in early reader program to get free galleys/arcs. If what you are looking for is tracking your books, Library Thing is the best site given the extensive number of features for cataloguing. Downsides: 1) harder to use than other sites and requires some playing around to figure out all the features; 2) no nested discussions; 3) no mobile app; 4) small fee if you want to catalogue more than 200 books. Upsides: 1) great cataloguing site with many features; 2) early reader program; 3) only partially owned by Amazon so for those who dislike Amazon; 4) really friendly users and helpful admins.
Litsy: A new Iphone app that is like a combination of instagram and goodreads. Upsides: great visuals, ability to link photos with short blurbs, reviews, and quotes. Downsides: Only available on iphone (for now), not as good to catalogue books and not that conducive to in depth discussions.
Rifflebooks: I just joined this site so I will come back again later to update. Thanks to one of our readers for letting us know about this site. It lets you track books, create lists, make friends, and they will provide reading recommendations. I’m still exploring all its features.