LibraryThing Revamps Under Amazon Pressure

Adrian Versteegh

Online book club LibraryThing announced yesterday that it will revamp its site to comply with new requirements from Amazon. The retailer, which supplies LibraryThing and countless other affiliates with valuable book data, has begun insisting that its partners’ primary pages link solely to Amazon. Under protest, LibraryThing will relegate links to libraries and competing booksellers to newly designed secondary pages, expected to be rolled out in the coming days.

“Everyone at LibraryThing disagrees with this decision,” founder Tim Spalding wrote on the community’s blog. “LibraryThing is not a social cataloging and social networking site for Amazon customers but for book lovers. Most of us are Amazon customers on Tuesday, and buy from a local bookstore or get from a library on Wednesday and Thursday! We recognize Amazon’s value, but we certainly value options.”

Rather than lose access to the Amazon data—which keeps the site’s seven hundred thousand members from having to enter book details and scan cover art themselves—LibraryThing is linking the primary page for each work to a comprehensive “Get It Now” page. These new secondary pages will include price comparison data for a host of retailers along with information about local library holdings and links to audio- and e-books, a workaround that Spalding says “will end up giving Amazon what they want while actually increasing options for members.” Spalding is also soliciting advice from LibraryThing users, many of whom have expressed opposition toward the community’s continued partnership with Amazon.