Negotiating ownership and agency in social media: Community reactions to Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads

Anne-Mette Bech Albrechtslund


This paper presents an in-depth study and a discussion of Goodreads users’ reactions to the acquisition of the popular social network site for readers by Amazon in 2013. The purpose is to provide an empirical and critical examination of the negotiations over agency and ownership evident in the discussions ensuing the acquisition. The boundaries and norms of Goodreads are negotiated by its users, and the threats to withdraw their active contributions in the wake of the Amazon acquisition are seen as a way to negotiate a definition of what the site should be. Goodreads is shown to be an example of the way online social spaces become contested because of different interpretations of their purpose and functions, and it is argued that its success is ultimately dependent on users’ self-understanding as a community.


social media; Goodreads; Amazon; digital culture; online communities

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