Amazon Shells Out For Shelfari

8/26/08Follow @bbuderi

Amazon will acquire Seattle-based Shelfari, a social networking site for bookworms, Shelfari’s CEO has confirmed on the company blog. John Cook broke the news yesterday and has a nice analysis of the ongoing tensions between Shelfari and its top rival, LibraryThing, in which Amazon also has a stake. And TechCrunch reports that Amazon previously invested $1 million in Shelfari. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In his blog post, Shelfari CEO Josh Hug waxes on about joining “the Amazon family” and spouts out all the traditional stuff about what a great team they will make. He also puts out a call to readers for new ideas:

“Amazon and Shelfari are committed to enhancing our members’ experiences so we want to hear from you on what we can do better. What changes or suggestions do you have? Tell us how you’d like to see Shelfari and Amazon work together to make your site experience the best it can be.”

One big question is how Shelfari might work with LibraryThing. When Amazon acquired Vancouver, Canada-based AbeBooks a few weeks ago, it also got a 40 percent stake in LibraryThing. Cook writes that LibraryThing’s CEO has accused Shelfari of astroturfing, the PR practice of planting comments on blogs and the like—in this case, glowing reviews of Shelfari—designed to look like spontaneous, grassroots activity. But hey, there’s bad blood in a lot of families. Why should Amazon’s be any different?

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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