This past month Amazon added Goodreads integration to the original, first generation Kindle Paperwhite. It was already part of the second generation Paperwhite as well as newer Kindle Fire tablets with the Fire OS 3.1 update last fall.
Goodreads (acquired by Amazon in early 2013) continues to extend its lead as the largest and fastest growing book cataloging and reading-focused social network on the Internet. Active readers use the network to rate and track their books, and meet readers with interests just like theirs. (Attention authors: it’s the Facebook for book lovers.)
Understanding why Amazon and Goodreads are pursuing deeper integration helps authors anticipate how to take advantage of this expanding ecosystem. Much of this centers on owning a Kindle device.
- While the Kindle Fire tablet users could install the Goodreads app, Kindle Paperwhite users had no such capability. Now with a single tap, Paperwhite readers can access their Goodreads accounts. It immediately extends the value proposition of the e-ink Paperwhite relative to the Kindle Fire. (No app required.)
- It encourages readers to invest in Kindle devices rather than, or in addition to, free Kindle apps. My guess is that Amazon is targeting iPad users as prospective buyers of the Paperwhite. Why? The iPad may be good for casual reading but as an immersive reading experience it is too heavy and awkward to hold for long periods. Armed with a Paperwhite and iPad, Amazon’s Whispersync keeps your reading progress synchronized. And while the Apple iBooks reading app works only on Apple devices, the Kindle reading app works on numerous competitor devices.
- The Kindle Owners Lending Library (the public facing name for eBooks that are part of the KDP Select program) is available only to Amazon Prime members that own a Kindle device.
- Pushing people to own a Kindle device helps Amazon sell more eBooks. For example, you cannot buy eBooks using the Kindle for iPad or Kindle for iPhone apps. You must exit and use a browser to visit Amazon.com which adds inconvenience and added steps potentially reducing the chance of an impulse book purchase.
5 Things Authors Can Do to Take Advantage of the growing integration of Goodreads and Kindle
- Complete your personal profile. Similar to AuthorCentral, this includes a bio, picture, links to your website and reading preferences. You can also connect your blog.
- Join the free Goodreads Author Program so you can claim management of your book's listing (anyone can post a book, but authors can manage its details and rectify problems like multiple posted versions).
- Encourage reviewers to post reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads. Did you know that Goodreads follows Amazon as the second most popular place for readers to post reviews? See slide 16 fromour 2013 eBook Publishing survey. Reviews on Goodreads also tend to be much shorter; more pithy. (I think readers like this.)
- Find and follow a few fellow authors that publish books similar to yours. Monitor what they post and emulate them (this is super easy on a Kindle device with integrated Goodreads. If you don’t have a Kindle, login to Goodreads from a computer or download and install the app.)
- Participate as a reader first, not as an author. The community is sensitive to authors that hawk their own books. Those that do run the risk of being added to the group “Authors Behaving Badly.” Add books you are reading, and review books you have read. After all, that’s what we are expecting others to do for our books, right?
Maximizing the use of Goodreads for book promotion is just one of the tools we use in our author coaching service and work with publishers. If you are a new author, or a publisher looking for help optimizing Amazon’s services to help sell books (or eBooks), give me a call.
You might also be interested in this interview with Lee Van Ham about his Goodreads experience.
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