Amazon shutters Shelfari

Amazon shutters Shelfari

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post

Comparing Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing

Amazon owns Goodreads and Shelfari, and has a stake in LibraryThing.

I speculated this:

“…they might shut down Shelfari (another social reading site which Amazon owns), and fold it into Goodreads.”

Well, it’s happening now.

It was announced here:

Goodreads is much bigger, and the vast majority of people won’t be negatively affected.

However, my readers are not “most people”. 😉

It wouldn’t surprise me if some of you are Shelfari users…as am I.

In terms of the books, they are making the transition pretty easy. There’s a tool where you can merge your Shelfari books with Goodreads, and you can also export the informationy as a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file, if you like. With the CSV, you can import them into Excel or many other spreadsheets, if you prefer. You can, of course, do both.

Be aware that the export might take a while…they are saying it could be a couple of days. They plan to complete the transition by March 16th of this year, so you do have some time.

However, I haven’t found anything addressing the continued survival of my favorite part of Shelfari: the “Book Extras” entered by users. This is what I noted about them before:


  • Description
  • Ridiculously Simplified Synopsis
  • Summary
  • Characters (35 of them listed)
  • Popular Covers
  • Quotes
  • Settings & Locations
  • Organizations (in the book)
  • First sentence
  • Table of Contents
  • Glossary
  • Themes & Symbolism
  • Series & Lists
  • Authors & Contributors
  • First Edition
  • Awards
  • Classification
  • Notes for Parents
  • Subjects
  • Popular Tags
  • Links to Supplemental Material
  • Movie Connections
  • More Books Like This
  • Books Influenced by This Book
  • Books That Cite This Book
  • Amazon Customers Who Bought This Book Also Bought

There are also sections which are hidden by default: Errata; Books with Additional Background Information; and Books That Influenced This Book. I’m not quite sure why those are hidden. There is a “hide spoilers” checkbox which is selected by default (I really appreciate that!), but unchecking it didn’t make them show up.


As a database person, I love that! I contributed a bit to, for example, the A Princess of Mars page.

Goodreads has user-editable character descriptions and settings, but that’s about it…and they aren’t as rich at this point.

I’m going to write to

to see if there are plans to migrate that.

I really hope they do!

While it would increase the size of Goodreads, and therefore might slow down some things (particularly on mobile), I think it would considerably enhance the value of Goodreads…and a lot more people would contribute to the Book Extras.

Heavy, long time users of Shelfari may have greater concerns.

They may be more concerned with what happens with the “Community” features, especially groups. Will those migrate?

Those people may be particularly passionate, however, when we look at actual numbers, they just aren’t that big for a company at the scale of Amazon. This is the “most active” group under genres:

YA Books that Adults Should Read
4868 members | 1575 group books | 8507 discussion posts

I never want to see anything that anybody has written disappear. I honestly emotionally feel that when I put something on the internet, it will be there forever.

Logically, and experientially, I know that’s not true.

I’d put a lot of time and effort into the Sci-Fi Channel’s (now Syfy) community pages years ago…I was pretty proud of some of my writing in certain areas. That got shut down…I tried to save what I could, but some was lost.

For example, I’d written a nice piece on what I call the “Discovered Destiny” genre…where the main character finds out that they have some unusual nature, powers, and responsibility. Harry Potter is an example, but there are lots of them.

I’m going to try to get more information about what will transition here, as I mentioned, and I’ll share it with you if I do.

I completely understand Amazon doing this…that’s why I predicted it. 🙂 It makes more sense to have one site rather than two, even when they are complementary. Like most people, though, I always want the best of both worlds. 🙂

What about LibraryThing?

I think it’s safe for now.

It’s ownership is in a different class, and it has a lot more members than Shelfari did.

I checked and there hasn’t been much news coverage on this…I wanted to make sure you heard about it, so you can take appropriate action.

What do you think? Were you a Shelfari user? Would you care about having the data features I mentioned on Goodreads, or would that make it too busy? When you write something on the internet, do you think it is forever, or ephemeral? If the latter, do you back it up yourself? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


13 Responses to “Amazon shutters Shelfari”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I miss Shelfari. I used to be able to access the databases from my K3 but haven’t been able to do that for a long time. I can’t access Goodreads from my Kindle due to no access to wi-fi.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    On a similar note, http://www/ now redirects to

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I think it’s been Omnivoracious for years…I did always think that was a weird name, though. If they covered all kinds of content, I would get it, but they don’t write about movies and videogames and such, to my knowledge. I don’t think that was a merger, though, right? Just a renaming?

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        Up until the end of December, there was still a Kindle Post blog. It no longer was linked to the Kindle Store page accessed from one’s Kindle, but it was available online. The link started redirecting in early January.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        Thanks for clarifying!

  3. Man in the Middle Says:

    I haven’t found any value in any of these yet. I can find anything I need to know about a book I’m thinking of reading directly on its Amazon page description and user reviews, and the ratings I give books I’ve read already helps Amazon recommend other books I’d enjoy (though they are pretty stupid about that sometimes.) The one feature I like on Goodreads is labeling a book “stopped reading”. I have not found the community features helpful, perhaps because the friends I have on Goodreads have tastes very different from mine in books.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      I found the “Book Extras” element to Shelfari not really about a book I’m considering reading, but as an encyclopedia…more like Wikipedia than Goodreads.

      For example, I added book descriptions (public domain) from A Princess of Mars to the glossary:

      ‘Calot: The Barsoomian (Martian) equivalent of a dog. Book description: “ten short legs”; “about the size of a Shetland pony”; “its head bore a slight resemblance to that of a frog, except that the jaws were equipped with three rows of long, sharp tusks”‘

      I just dug around for that on Wikipedia, and didn’t find it. So, if you wanted to know how many rows of tusks a calot had, Shelfari was a place to go. 🙂

  4. Edward Boyhan Says:

    About two/three years ago I was interested in setting up a personal library management system (I had been using Gurulib, but they disappeared). I wanted to have at a minimum, title, author, and ISBN #. I wanted to keep track of ALL my books: print, eBooks, etc bought from Amazon or elsewhere. Gurulib was good because I could give it a list of ISBN’s, and it would go out to libraries, Amazon, and other places to gather all the relevant metadata.

    I looked at LibraryThing, Goodreads, Shelfari, and Calibre. From a techie’s perspective, Calibre had the most down & dirty capabilities, but it was a little weak on pBooks (I did get the developer to add some pBook features).

    At the time Goodreads seemed to be riven with various political posting controversies, and commenting on books, or joining a community is not my thing. Library Thing could do what I wanted, but at my scale it wasn’t free, Shelfari always seemed to be unfinished, and more concerned with prettiness than the kind of substance I desired.

    Then Amazon bought Goodreads, the posting nonsense subsided, and Amazon started to integrate Goodreads into the Kindle reading experience. On my PW2 & PW3, every time I open a book for the first time it gives me a popup from Goodreads telling me about the book with links to the Amazon page, the author, etc. It also had a link to indicate that you were currently reading it. I always checked that, and then at the end Goodreads would give you another popup asking for a star review. It would also tell you the next title in a series, other titles by the author, other titles from similar authors all with links to the Amazon store — very handy that. I always give a star rating

    Then, at the end of the year, Goodreads gives you a count of the books you read that year, and your average star rating (mine was about 4.1). It also asked me to join a challenge for 2016 (how many books did I intend to read in 2016).

    In the event, on Dec 31 it told me that I had read 202 books in 2015, and what the shortest and longest were. At 11:45 on December 31, I’m reading #203, and I’ve got 30 pages to go, and I’m rushing to finish it in 2015 (;grin). Do you realize how hard it is to concentrate and read against such a deadline? Anyhow, I didn’t finish until 12:15, but my Goodreads 2015 count IS 203 — so I guess it counts start time not finish time.

    As you can see I’m sort of bought into Goodreads. If I ever get around to building a library management system, it will be based around Goodreads. The demise of Shelfari doesn’t affect me at all — save that maybe some additional richness will come to Goodreads as part of the merger.

    As things stand now library management is not high on my todo list. I’m still wishing that Amazon would let us see on the manage my content page which books are on which devices, and in which cloud collections.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I appreciate you sharing your experiences and approach!

      You make some excellent point. I’ve never been clear on why Amazon doesn’t let us centrally see what Kindle store books are on which device. They know at the time we ask for delivery, and they keep a tally so they know when we hit the Simultaneous Device limit (usually six). I suppose they might just have a “ticker” of how many devices without recording which ones…but it seems like it wouldn’t be complicated to track and tell us. There would be a lot of value to it….it would help me to know when my SO has returned a Kindle Unlimited book, for example. I don’t think they are trying to drive people to Whispercast, their enterprise management system…I think they just haven’t made giving us that capability a priority.

      I’m not particularly concerned about tracking which books I have, personally…I think that might make me an outlier on these kinds of sites.

  5. Tom Semple Says:

    I joined Shelfari before Goodreads, and before Amazon acquired either company, but it never achieved critical mass for me, particularly once I started using mobile devices instead of a laptop. It was obvious early on after Amazon acquired Shelfari that they had no plans for it apart from mining it for XRay data. Over time, it seems, less of the XRay data seems to originate there, and that seems to be a ‘minus’.

    So it is all Goodreads for me lately, mostly because Amazon has made useful integration with most of the Kindle apps, and I find it easier to use than Shelfari was. Even so, I don’t see much innovation going on there, and as a social network, it baffles me that it is so difficult (particularly with the mobile apps) to find interesting people to follow (e.g. ‘compare books’ feature is missing), and the recommendations never seem to hit the target or improve, even though I’ve posted ratings for hundreds of books. I like that many authors have a presence there, but for me it is mostly just a way to keep track of what I’ve read.

    And it is strange that the mobile apps for iOS and Android do not serve as a Sharing target as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn do (on iOS, it is an option for the Kindle app but for nothing else as far as I can tell). Yes, they might get people sharing links to iBooks or Kobo, but it would grow the community. A social networking app that doesn’t allow you to Share? Weird.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Yes, it does seem like an underdeveloped part of Amazon…but I suspect terms of the purchase might be affecting that. Amazon owns some entities where it takes them over, but sort of states an intention not to change them much. Goodreads was like that; I’d say IMDbce is similar. They may be a bit “hands off” for a while.

      Honestly, though, User Interface is not something I consider a strength of Amazon’s…whether it’s search on, the Manage Your Content and Devices page….their human customer service is great, and their policies are excellent, but electronic UI is just not what they do well.

  6. Upcoming deadlines | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Amazon shutters Shelfari […]

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