Sunday, May 08, 2011

Bookish It May Be, But Is It Wise Dotcom?

In this new age of social networking we are constantly being reminded that books have always been shared, discussed and can provide a social hook. Because of this social aspect of books we all search to find that social platform and a big opportunity to join the dots and engage authors, readers, booksellers, reviewers, editors and anyone with something to say about books.

Many have tried and todate and it is fair to say none have succeeded. Amazon was first with their reviewer comments, Publisher’s have launched genre and author platforms, author signings have threatened to go virtual, those ‘like it’ thumbs up links now litter sites, in the UK Book Rabbit came up and went back down its hole and we have the social book site Copia, meandered around and wondering what it wants to be, the list goes on.

We now read that ‘Bookish’ is going to be the next big thing and will be where readers go to find their next book. Bookish believes that with the help of AOL and book publishers like Penguin, Simon & Schuster and the Hachette Book Group its going to change the social book network. According to their CEO Peter Lemgruber, ‘Nobody is more intimately familiar with the multitude of elements that make a book appealing than its publisher.’

Ten years ago the endorsement of AOL would have counted, but today AOL stands like Microsoft wondering what happened at their party and why all the guests appear to be leaving. As for publisher being the judge of book appeal, Lemgriber obviously doesn’t appreciate the gambling element of publishing and the fact that publishers publish books and retail sells them.

The mystery as to what will work and what will merely create noise and fail is as complex as the book market that they are trying to engage. Many readers can see through the ‘cluster bombing’ of marketing spend and inventory to make a best seller, celebrities still work but often can’t engage through their text and importantly people’s reading habits are often very eclectic and hard to pigeon hole.

Some say that reading others views really helps. However, this may be like reading comments about a hotel on a travel web site, a video clip on YouTube etc - it all helps qualify but are often not necessarily always trusted, have anything to say, or are authoritative.

Heavy readers probably already have their sources to help them select their next read. Perhaps those who read less often will never feel the urge to invest the time to engage in a ‘bookish’ place until their reading habit grows to need it.

Perhaps the challenge remains to get more people to read and read more.


Peter said...

Don't quite get the point of Bookish. It appears to be a response to Amazon becoming a publisher. If so, it's a day late and a dollar short.

Their USP is not immediately clear. What's going to attract me to Bookish? The underlying tech seems to focus on delivering a more social recommendation system than Amazon. This makes me uneasy, because of all the things you may fault Amazon for, the rec engine isn't at the top of the list.

Even if consumers flock to Bookish for their superior rec engine - is Amazon going to stand idly by while this happens? Don't forget, Amazon's rec engine touches *everything* there - not just the book section - and Bezos will take any threat to this extremely seriously. It's his core turf. He will throw money at this (deeper pockets than Bookish) and if necessary sue. We're into territorial IP here, and it could turn ugly.

Martyn Daniels said...

not sure about the Amazon response but i still ask what is wants to be when it grows up and who will drive the eyeballs - the publishers, AOL, social sites?

We have seen many attempts to capture the social link to book buying and reading but all have failed as they tended to do you thing and miss the other dots

The publishers remind one of the music producers who spread their bets widely on many ventures but failed to back many winners