Amazon Book Clubs is a new early access platform. People can join public groups, which focus on specific genres, such as mysteries, romance, or science fiction. Book clubs can be private and by invitation only, or public. Each of the clubs has little presentation on the goal, as well as their number one recommendation. Clicking on the recommendation takes you to the Amazon listing. I think it’s an interesting new system, which should have a lot of new features, before its official launch.
I just joined the Unforgettable Reads Club, which is public and applications are automatically approved. It lists the group administrator, which is currently Amazon Book Reviews, and has around 2,600 members. You can view members whose profiles are defined as public, but the vast majority are private. I can add a book to the list or invite an Amazon member to join. The books float to the top the more members click the suggest button, so popular books that people have read tend to be easily discoverable. Each title actually provides a numeric value, with many people clicking the suggest button, so it’s transparent.
The Amazon Book Clubs landing page allows you to find a book club, create a book club, or configure settings. I like the ability to start a page and have my friends download books that they’re reading or recommending. Amazon also sends you an email when you join the first club, letting you know about some of the key features. It’s a simpler and sleeker system than GoodReads, which has so many different features it’s mind-boggling.
Amazon also has a new Book Club Picks section on its main website, which lists all the books that people have clicked on and suggested from all the different clubs, and places them on an Amazon main webpage, which gives you a preview of what everyone is reading. There is a unified master list of all clubs, but you can also focus on a particular genre. It’s a good way to discover new and interesting books, which don’t really make it to traditional Amazon bestseller lists.
Amazon book clubs are pretty rudimentary right now. There is no chat or messaging feature, it is basically a recommended books list, where the best books that have been voted up float up, enjoyable and organic. It remains to be seen when this service will drop the early access flag and open its doors and what new features will be implemented in the future.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post, and The New York Times. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.