Goodreads, the social reading service that Amazon acquired earlier this year, is announcing today that it has reached 20 million members.
CEO and co-founder Otis Chandler said that since it launched in 2007, the site, where users can share which books they’ve read and review them, has seen “slow-but-steady growth,” but things really started to accelerate in the past year. It took Goodreads only 11 months to double its membership after hitting 10 million members in August 2012.
Chandler identified three main factors behind the accelerating growth. First, he said, Goodreads has now built up “a critical mass of book reviews.” He said he isn’t sure about exactly where the threshold was, but with more than 25 million reviews, Goodreads now covers enough titles that you can find lots of useful content.
Second, he said Goodreads has seen “explosive” mobile growth. He noted that with all that review content, users are going to want to look up titles before they purchase them in bookstores, and the easiest way to do that is from their phones. Plus, he said it reflects “where people are when they’re reading books” (if they’re out at the beach and they finish a book, the easiest way to post a review or a rating is, again, likely to be from their phone) and the fact that “more people are reading on mobile devices than ever before.”
The third factor has been Goodreads’ international growth. He didn’t offer any specific numbers, but he said he’s been surprised to see that growth since the site hasn’t really made a concerted effort to promote itself globally, and in fact doesn’t offer any localized versions outside the United States — that’s something that’s going to change, he said.
And yes, Chandler said he expects that being owned by Amazon will also contribute to growth, since Amazon can provide plenty of resources behind, say, an international push, plus it has an enormous audience of its own. There’s been a lot of growth in terms of head count — Goodreads had 35 employees at the time of the acquisition and it now has 58. Chandler said the team just moved into a new San Francisco office, claiming one of Amazon Music’s empty floors.
At the same time, he said Goodreads has maintained the independence that he had promised when the acquisition was announced. The site has continued to operate “in the vein of IMDb and Audible and Zappos as an independent brand” that’s owned by Amazon, and for folks who were worried that Goodreads would become a Kindle-only social network, Chandler said “Amazon management has continued to be very supportive of us working on all readers indefinitely.”