Three big-name, traditional publishers — Simon and Schuster, Penguin, and Hatchette — are jointly launching a new website called “Bookish,” according to the New York Times, which will be what they describe as a “one stop book site” for information on books, recommendations, reviews, and the like. The venture will supposedly have twenty employees who select books from the fourteen participating publishers. It’s supposed to launch this summer, and I’ve signed up for more information n it when it becomes available and will update here when I know more. On the face of it, I feel obligated to point out a couple problems with the concept. First, Amazon already does this. As do sites like LibraryThing. Amazon in particular is the current “one stop” book site where almost all readers and would-be book purchasers already go for this kind of information. Second, Bookish is clearly intended to be a site by and for traditional publishers. They admit that they will shill their own books, and those of other publishers who pay them to do so. More information is good, but frankly, I for one rarely buy books based on publishers’ blurbs. How about you? And third, because it’s essentially a house organ, the recommendations are going to be extremely limited in scope. No self-pubbed eBooks (e.g., Amanda Hocking, J. A. Konrath), no smaller publishers, no oldies but goodies, etc. They claim to take inspiration from places like Netflix and IMDB, but those sites don’t also produce the kinds of content they’re hawking. Would you trust Netflix’s recommendations if they were (1) also in the business of producing films and (2) selected by Netflix employees and not fellow users of the site? I didn’t think so.
It’ll be interesting to see where this one goes.