Amazon started out as a bookseller and turned into a powerhouse, a website where you can find almost anything you can imagine. They revolutionized the reading experience with their popular Kindle eReader and made it easier for authors to connect with their audience through eBook self-publishing. They've acquired some businesses along the way and many believe that they are a ruthless monopoly that will single-handedly put brick-and-mortar booksellers out of business.
However, few people seem to remember that Amazon currently owns two big companies that continue to thrive and remained independent after the acquisition―or so it seems to be the case.
The Internet Movie Database, aka IMDB is owned by Amazon. Site users could easily ignore that fact by simply visiting THE source of information about movies, TV, actors, and directors. The clever way Amazon found to tie-in their products with the website was to feature their video-on-demand content in all possible movie pages. So, if you check out a title you're interested in, you may see a little screen saying "Full movie" or "Full episode" and watch it for free or for a small rental/purchase fee. You can also sign up for an AmazonPrime account, which not only gives you access to their movie and TV library, but can save you money with free shipping on selected items.
The audiobook service Audible is also owned by Amazon. And, if you have a Kindle, you may have noticed that some book pages offer the Whispersync for Voice service, with an audio version of the eBook you're about to purchase for an additional fee, so you can listen to professionally narrated books on your Kindle, instead of using the computerized text-to-speech function.
Now, what will the Amazon + GoodReads relationship lead to?
GoodReads is one of the largest reading communities on the web. With 16 million users signed up to this date, it helps people connect and share information about the books they love and hate. They have the fun GoodReads Challenge for you to track the books you've read throughout the year and some nice gadgets to display them in your blog or site. There's also an Author Program to help self-published authors showcase their work and interact with readers.
What can Amazon bring to the table inside this environment? How will the Author Program and KDP interact? Will it help self-published authors get the word out more effectively, tapping into the millions of potential readers within the community? Will GoodReads reviews be incorporated into Amazon book pages?
These are some of the questions I've been asking myself since the announcement was made last week. I'll keep an eye on the developments and how self-published authors will be impacted by this seemingly match made in heaven.
RAFA LOMBARDINO is a translator and journalist from Brazil who lives in California. She has been working as a translator since 1997 and, in 2011, started to join forces with self-published authors to translate their work into Portuguese and English. In addition to acting as content curator at eWordNews, she also runs Word Awareness, a small network of professional translators, and coordinates two projects to promote Brazilian literature worldwide: Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories (CBSS) and Cuentos Brasileños de la Actualidad (CBA).