The open embrace of Jeff Bezos
It's all starting to come together, isn't it? This week, (NASDAQ:AMZN) acquired Shelfari, a social networking site for book lovers. The site will never challenge Facebook or News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) MySpace for traffic dominance. You won't find suburban girls making gang signs in front of a copy of A Tale of Two Cities. There's no overly flattering Photoshopped snapshot alongside a hardbound Great Expectations.

Shelfari's emphasis is on the books that its members have read, are reading, and want to read. This naturally makes Amazon a no-brainer buyer. It can sell members the books. It can get to know their tastes even better, improving its own recommendations engine in the process.

However, this may ultimately be about the Kindle. This is Amazon's big bookworm bet, a proprietary e-book reader that needs to achieve critical mass if it wants to make a difference. With a recent promotion marking down the Kindle to as little as $259 and whispers of upgraded versions on the way, Amazon knows that it needs to strike quickly. If fickle consumers move on, Amazon may never be able to introduce another branded gadget.

This is where Shelfari comes in. If book lovers are congregating anywhere in cyberspace, Amazon is going to want their undivided attention. The company wouldn't be silly enough to attempt to ram the Kindle down a literary person's throat, but the more street cred that Amazon wins with the bookworms, the easier it will be to make the Kindle ubiquitous.

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Mattel (NYSE:MAT) won a $100 million jury verdict against MGA Entertainment over its Bratz line of wide-eyed dolls. Can it collect the money? Who will own the Bratz line? Can Mattel's own Barbie ever get her groove back? These are questions that have yet to be answered, but at least Mattel is off to a good start.
  • If your portfolio has taken a beating this year, take comfort in knowing that we're now done with the first three quarters of the calendar year. I actually made four bold predictions about what will happen over the next three months. I see Microhoo, people. I also see a higher share price for Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) now that the deal is complete and the pessimism fully priced into the hammered stock. We'll see how it goes. Can I read your palm?
  • With Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) sharing similar market caps at the moment, it's only natural to wonder which one to buy -- if you could only buy one. However, neither stock has exactly been a media darling lately, with Apple being blasted for everything from iPhone bugs to how it decides what sticks in its App Store. Google is shedding its "do no evil" halo, with reporters wondering if the company has lost its mojo. I'm not worried. It would actually be scary if the media only had nice things to say about you.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.