Could Social Reading Site ‘Bookish’ Become ‘IMDB For Books’?

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Get your summer reading list ready, a new books site, Bookish, will launch on Labor Day. The site promises to be part content, part retailer and part recommendation engine—a unique literary web cocktail.

Backed by publishing bigwigs like Simon & Schuster, the Hachette Book Group and Penguin—who envision this latest attempt to create the world’s greatest online book club/bookstore as the be-all, end-all—it’s pretty much the latest in a long line of online book hubs. The difference here is that with the support of three major houses, it’s clear they think this one has a shot. And so do users.

While there are plenty of candidates, I don’t believe we’ve really seen the best of what literature has to offer the online community. Even Goodreads–the still growing-like-a-web-weed social reading site—has its problems. It’s gaining about 100,000 new users a month, but there have been complaints from authors and members alike for things like reviews posted for books that haven’t been written, and ‘tricked ya!’ features that prompt users to spam every contact in their address book.

When it comes to a reader’s online experience, they’re still searching. Which is exactly why #Bookish has been trending on Twitter all morning. This is still a race to be won.

The site itself will be a mix of social and editorial content, set to inform readers about upcoming books and deliver updates about favorite authors. Headed by Paulo Lemgruber, who ran the digital side of Comcast, Bookish hopes to be the IMDB of the book world, complete with breaking news, interviews, excerpts and reviews, Lemgruber told Publisher’s Weekly. He also promised the site would run independent of publisher influence, despite backing by three major publishing houses.

Users will see book recommends based on the information they input, i.e. the more information you surrender, the more ostensibly spot-on the recommendation engine and “personalized” ads. Though nothing’s been divulged about the recommendation algorithm itself, the announcement did include news of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group’s involvement as the ad sales team. (Translation: Your information will probably be handed straight to them.)

Whether Bookish will provide any social-networking angles to its site is unknown. An email from the site thanking you for signing up promises chances to connect, but from what we’ve seen, social reading sites and e-commerce don’t necessarily fit hand-in-glove. Anyone heard from Copia lately?

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