Founded in 2006, Shelfari was a social cataloging website centered around books. The users could build virtual bookshelves and organize their books into different categories. The website allowed users to rate, review, and tag books while discussing them with others on the internet. Last but not least - it allowed bibliophiles to congregate in groups for discussions based on books or other topics.
In 2007, Shelfari received an investment of $1 million from Amazon. One year later, in 2008, Amazon acquired the company.
In 2016, Amazon announced that Shelfari was being merged with Goodreads and the original site would be closing down. Amazon gave users a limited period to back up their data including reviews and bookshelves stored on Shelfari before the site was taken down. Users shifted their data to services such as Goodreads but many fans of Shelfari were disappointed with the decision.
One of the main reasons for shutting down Shelfari was Amazon’s huge investment in Goodreads. The retail giant integrated Goodreads functionalities into its popular Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets, making Shelfari somewhat obsolete in Amazon’s website portfolio.
Shelfari was created at a time when e-readers and tablets hadn’t become popular. This meant that the company was never able to provide an elevated user experience or create user-friendly applications for Android and Apple OS. On the other hand, Goodreads catered heavily to the smartphone generation and was able to retain its popularity and relevance through the years. It stands to reason that Amazon chose Goodreads as the torchbearer for its future book-related endeavors.