On May 2 Anobii announced the public beta of its new website from its blog. New graphics, new functions, etc., but above all the REALLY new thing which, however, – oddly enough – there’s no mention of in the blog: Anobii has radically changed its very essence, from a vertical social network dedicated to books and book lovers worldwide, to an actual ebook store competing with all the others.
This development is worthy of a few comments:
- Anobii starts selling ebooks almost on the QT, while trying to keep the focus on its social content: this is entirely unfair. Just like, in my opinion, it’s unfair to confiscate – now with the intention of making direct sales – the users and their content produced over the last few years, confident that they were doing so in order to share their love for books, and not to provide free material for those who are now making direct commercial use of that material.
- Anobii’s shift towards ecommerce indicates that the strategy of vertical social networking sites in competition with the generalist FaceBook just doesn’t work. At least for books, it seems. Librarything.com and Shelfari.com are practically lifeless after both were acquired by Amazon. This leaves only Goodreads.com, which thanks to the support of its investors continues to pick up users, even though it’s not yet clear what its (famed) business model is.