Amazon announced today that, effective 22 March 2017, their online writing community website, Write On by Kindle, will cease operations. Authors are advised to download their work(s), and a warning has been posted on the site’s landing page.
Write On was Amazon’s late-to-the-party entry into the online writing community.
Earlier, and more successful communities include Scribd, which morphed into a paid subscription service, and Wattpad, with its 45,000,000+ global membership, and which funds itself through advertising (with nothing paid to authors, but that’s another story).
The demise of Write On reminds me of the poor-cousin syndrome that was Shelfari, which attempted — and failed — to compete with Goodreads. Amazon have a long track record of appropriating the good ideas of others but failing to make the same mark. There was the very public flame-out of the Fire Phone; the parking of Destinations, a hotel booking company that disappeared so quickly most people never heard of it; Amazon Local, the retail giant’s answer to the Groupon question no one asked; Amazon Wallet, aborted at just six months; Local Register, the round peg in a Square hole … the list goes on.
What Amazon sometimes do when they fail is to buy the competition.
Goodreads was purchased in 2013, and Shelfari (which was itself an acquisition early in its development) users were migrated into Goodreads. The merger struck a major blow to authors, whose Goodreads ratings and reviews had been syndicated to retail sites such as Kobo and B&N, a practice quickly shut down by Amazon. The end of Write On has me wondering if Wattpad will be approached by Amazon, and what, if anything, might come of such a merger.