A while back, I did a post about my love for the book orientated social networking site Shelfari.
I am hoping that the news below will not result in any changes to this site that I love...
Amazon.com buys Shelfari, a startup for book lovers
By JOHN COOK
Amazon.com is buying Shelfari, the Seattle social networking startup for book lovers, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
The deal comes about three weeks after Amazon.com acquired Victoria, B.C.-basedAbeBooks, which holds an equity stake in Shelfari's main rival, LibraryThing.
Amazon.com already owned a portion of Shelfari, which received funding from the Seattle-based online retailer and angel investors in February 2007.
Shelfari is a social network that allows groups of people to create virtual bookshelves and share titles with friends. It was co-founded by Josh Hug, the former director of device engineering at Seattle's RealNetworks.
Hug and Amazon.com could not be reached for comment Monday, but an announcement was expected soon. Dave Hanley, vice president of marketing at Shelfari, declined to comment and referred questions to Hug.
Sources told the Seattle P-I the financial outcome was positive for investors in Shelfari. The company raised about $1 million in February 2007 and had been considering another round of funding.
There's no love lost between Shelfari and LibraryThing.
LibraryThing founder Tim Spalding has called Shelfari a "bad actor" for engaging in what he called a massive campaign of "astroturfing," the practice of planting positive comments about a service on blogs.
Spalding said he came up with more than 50 examples, writing in a blog post that "it's icky to ... go on and on about how much you 'love' Shelfari without mentioning you're paid by them."
In another post, Spalding accused Shelfari of being an unethical spammer. Shelfari apologized and fixed the problems.
It is unclear what Amazon.com plans to do with its equity stake in LibraryThing.
In an interview in 2006, Hug addressed how his startup was different from the communities of book lovers on Amazon.
"When you look at a book on Amazon, yes, you see a lot of people who have commented on that book, but you don't really have a relationship with those people," Hug said. "They might be thorough opinions or reviews, but a review by someone you know or associate with would carry a lot more weight with consumers. That's what we are building on."
Now Hug and the rest of the crew will be able to build that functionality full time for Amazon.com.