September 3, 2013

Kobo backs out of the Amazon-owned Goodreads API


Kobo says “No no” to Amazon-owned Goodreads API.

Five months after Amazon ate Goodreads (and all of its juicy, delicious data), Kobo has ceased using Goodreads API on its website and apps.

Kobo has relied heavily on reviews and ratings from Goodreads to sell its titles over the past several years. According to GoodEreader‘s Michael Kozlowski, the decision to suspend the Goodreads API was the result of Kobo’s website undergoing “a severe revision [that] can be considered a major upgrade.”

Michael Tamblyn, Chief Content Officer at Kobo, told GoodEreader that Kobo was “evaluating re-adding the API at some point in the future, but was cryptic on whether it would actually happen or not.” As the always invaluable Laura Hazard Owen notes for PaidContent, the decision appears to have been Kobo’s, and is not the result of Amazon throwing its weight around.

The transition has caused problems–as Kozlowski notes in his dispatch, “hundreds of users” have reported problems and only Kobo’s Android App seems to be working fine. But divesting from a resource owned by a notoriously ruthless competitor seems like a smart risk to take, especially if Kobo’s restructure includes an effective counter-attack.


Alex Shephard is the director of digital media for Melville House, and a former bookseller.