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Goodreads Offering Ebook Deals in Move to Leverage User Data


On May 17th, Amazon-owned social reading platform Goodreads announced a new deals service, Goodreads Deals, that will notify users of ebook deals. The deals will be personalized according to genre preference and the reviews of fellow readers, as well as readers’ own wishlists.

Goodreads Deals is initially available only to U.S. users, and will include deals from a multiple platforms, including the Kindle Store, Apple (APPL) iBooks, Barnes & Noble (BKS) Nook, Kobo, and Google (GOOG) Play.

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The new service is a significant step towards realizing the value of Amazon’s 2013 acquisition of Goodreads, for a reported $150 million. Goodreads’ main source of revenue early on was book advertising, rather than sales. But as Wired points out, reading habits are remarkably personal, making Goodreads’ data a potential goldmine of insight into that subtlest of consumer metrics—taste.

Taste is such a nuanced thing that according to Netflix (NFLX), another portal with a lot of data on media consumption, traditional demographic measures like location, age, and gender are “garbage” for helping divine what people want to read or watch.

While it’s starting close to home, Goodreads’ data could conceivably be leveraged much more broadly, to sell users not just books, but movies, games, even home décor or food. Amazon’s retail portal, of course, learned the ropes of that game long ago, also starting with books. But Goodreads has arguably managed to create a more dedicated and active community than Amazon (AMZN), which could produce better data. The site currently reports a userbase of 50 million.

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Of course, when it comes to targeted marketing, Goodreads has one significant disadvantage compared to Netflix or other streaming services. Because users self-report what they’re reading, the platform will in some cases have less robust information than companies that comprehensively track user activity on a closed platform.

On the flipside, Goodreads might argue that it actually tracks more activity than streaming services, at least for its most dedicated users. The likes of Spotify and Netflix don’t capture it when a user watches a DVD or listens to a vinyl record, but a dedicated Goodreads user theoretically posts books they read across all platforms.