Earlier today I shelled out $50 for a whois history for this domain, and it tells us that even thought the domain was last registered in January 2013, Amazon only took control of the site at the beginning of the month.
Amazon bought the domain off of the web equivalent of a real estate speculator, which had registered the domain in 2013 and then parked a holding page there (we can see this in the screenshots in the report).
And before it was registered by a speculator, the site belonged to Brit by the name of Ian Porter. Based on what I see in the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive, this was a book swap site of some kind. The site was in operation since at least 2007, but it apparently closed some time in late 2012.
My report goes back to 2007, but another source says that records go back to 2002. I can't confirm that, but it is entirely possible that several someones registered the domain at one point or another. But that is less important than the fact that Amazon only recently acquired the domain, rather than getting it 18 months ago (as the public whois data would suggest).
That short time frame tells us that Readers United was not an idea that Amazon had on a backburner but is actually a direct response to the Authors United group. While that doesn't change my opinion of the matter it is interesting nonetheless.
I have embedded the report PDF below. You're welcome to download it, but since it cost me $50 it comes with strings attached:
- Please don't repost, email, or otherwise share the PDF, and
- Please link to this page and not the PDF