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Subsidiary of
Industry Online book community
Founded October 2006
Headquarters Seattle, WA
Key people

Josh Hug, Co-founder/CEO

Kevin Beukelman, Co-founder/Chief Architect

Mark Williamson, Co-founder

Dave Hanley, VP Marketing

Ian Patterson, Lead Designer
Slogan Read. Share. Explore.

Shelfari is a social cataloging website for books. Shelfari users build virtual bookshelves of the titles they own or have read, and can rate, review, tag, and discuss their books. Users can also create groups that other members may join, create discussions, and talk about books, or other topics. Recommendations can be sent to friends on the site for what books to read.

Shelfari was launched on October 11, 2006.[1] In February 2007, invested $1 million in Shelfari,[2] and moved to acquire it a year later in August 2008.[3]

As of January 2016, the site hosts a notification announcing "Shelfari is merging with Goodreads".[4]


Shelfari was founded by RealNetworks alumni Josh Hug and Kevin Beukelman (both software developers), and Mark Williamson (who never joined the company[which?] full-time) under the name Tastemakers, Inc., along with designer Ian Patterson. Tastemakers sought to create a social networking service that met the needs of avid readers. This strategy may have mirrored a trend during this time period of creating niche social networks such as social movie site Flixster. Once Shelfari received its first equity fund raise in early 2007[5] the company grew to five employees, including software developer Kevin Durdle, designer Timothy Gray, and VP of marketing Dave Hanley.[6] In August 2008, the company was acquired by,[7] also a Seattle, Washington company, and the team was integrated into the book technology group.

Shelfari continued to function as an independent book social network within the family of sites until January 2016, when Amazon announced on that it would be merging Shelfari with Goodreads and closing down Shelfari. To prepare Shelfari members for the move, Amazon posted on a prominent announcement stating, "IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Shelfari is merging with Goodreads. Learn More",[8] as well as links to a page titled "Read the FAQ",[9] instructions to "Download your data in a CSV file" (whose linked page is titled "Export Everything",[10]), and instructions to "Move to Goodreads" (whose linked page is titled "Export Invitation"),[11] along with two months to migrate their Shelfari content to Goodreads. Although Shelfari discussion threads will not be migrated (as Amazon would need permission from all conversants in order to do so), users were advised: "you may save your own data for your own records".[12][13]


Shelfari promotes its "virtual bookshelf" as one of its main features. The virtual bookshelf displays covers of books which the user has entered, with popups to show the user's book information (review, rating, and tags). Sorting by author, title, date, rating, or review is available to the viewer of the shelf. Users may organize books into different shelves, including already read, currently reading, planning to read, wish list, currently owned, and favorites.

The Shelfari catalog may be edited by users, though some changes must be approved by Shelfari "librarians". Using wiki functionality users may edit each book's authors, title, publication data, table of contents, first sentence, and series. Users may also combine redundant books into a single entry or add new titles not found in the catalog. Similar to books, author pages may be edited or created. In addition to general catalog maintenance, users are encouraged to contribute reviews, descriptions, lists of characters and settings, author biographies, categories, and descriptive tags.

Most books in the Shelfari catalog come from the large Amazon catalog, including Amazon Marketplace listings added by independent resellers. These books link back to Amazon and display current pricing and links to AbeBooks for used book sales.

Shelfari has a group creator, which allows members to create group threads within which to talk, play, or discuss books.


Shelfari has received bad press for its "Invite Friends" page. Jesse Wegman, writing in The New York Observer in October 2007, complained that because he had "accidentally failed to uncheck the approximately 1,500 names in my Gmail address book that Shelfari had helpfully pre-checked", the system caused invitations to be sent, contrary to his intentions but "ostensibly" from his own address, to his entire network of contacts.[14] In November 2007, Shelfari was accused of astroturfing by Tim Spalding, the creator of LibraryThing, a competing social networking book site.[15] In a comment on another blog critical of Shelfari (primarily criticizing the "invitations" system), Josh Hug, the CEO, blamed the astroturfing on an intern not knowing better, and said that it had stopped.[16]

See also


  1. Cook, John (2006-10-11). "Shelfari an online meeting place for bibliophiles". Seattle PI. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  2. Arrington, Michael (2006-02-25). "Social Networking for Bookworms". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  3. Kincaid, Jason (2008-08-25). "Amazon Acquires Shelfari: Moves To Corner Book-Centric Social Networks". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  4. jenp27 (January 12, 2016). "Amazon Kills Shelfari". The Reader's Room. 
  5. Arrington, Michael (2006-02-25). "Social Networking for Bookworms". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  6. Hug, Josh (2007-04-27). "We're back! Bigger and Badder". Shelfari Blog. Retrieved 2011-03-18. 
  7. Kincaid, Jason (2008-08-25). "Amazon Acquires Shelfari: Moves To Corner Book-Centric Social Networks". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  8. jenp27 (January 12, 2016). "Amazon Kills Shelfari". The Reader's Room. 
  9. "Read the FAQ". Shelfari. January 2016. 
  10. "Download your data in a CSV file". Shelfari. January 2016. 
  11. "Export Invitation". Shelfari. January 2016. 
  12. Holiday, J.D. (January 13, 2016). "Shelfari Is Closing! BUT, You Can Merge Your Account with Goodreads!". The Book Marketing Network. 
  13. jenp27 (January 12, 2016). "Amazon Kills Shelfari". The Reader's Room. 
  14. Wegman, Jesse (2007-10-23). "Caught in Shelfari's Sticky Web: No More Friends, Please!". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  15. Tim Spalding (November 13, 2007). "Shelfari Astroturfing: the Evidence". Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  16. Michael Lieberman (November 12, 2007). "Shelfari Stumbles". Book Patrol blog. Retrieved 2007-12-18.  The comment reads: "As for the astroturfing, that was an unintended work of an unexperienced but well-meaning intern who failed to make himself known as he commented on blogs. That was not our intent and we were unaware that was going on. It has stopped."

External links