Back in May of 2011, I wrote about
a site being launched by Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin, and AOL/Huffpo to provide readers with book discovery…possibly as a bid to provide an alternative to Amazon.
Well, it has now finally gone live.
I’d suggest that you check it out, and see what you feel about its usefulness to you.
So far, I’d say it looks good and seems to work well mechanically.
One big feature is the Recommendations search (which is still listed as being in beta…test mode).
You type in a book you love or one that you’ve recently read, and it makes recommendations based on that.
For example, when I put in The Transparent Society, it made at least one of the same recommendations Amazon has made to me based on it (Engines of Creation). That one makes sense: it is talking about the impact of nanotechnology, which is a theme of The Transparent Society. It also recommended two books by Vernor Vinge, another science fiction writer. It’s fourth recommendation was for a book on the Crimean War…I don’t quite see the connection.
Nicely, though, I could click a “more like this” link under any of them. Doing that under The Engine of Creation worked, giving me more of the same sorts of books.
The only real problem for me was that Engines of Creation is not available for the Kindle…which basically means I won’t buy it. Again, I think Amazon did the same thing.
At Bookish, though, I had already told it (you don’t have to create an account, but I did) that I read Kindle format books.
I also explored the site a bit.
Part of what is going to matter on this site is the editorial staff. The site will have its own material and flavor, and that’s going to help decide if people will want to take a trip away from Amazon to come here.
I will say that the brief bios seemed somewhat similar…I don’t think there was an editor over 50. I don’t hold that against them (there’s no reason, in my mind, that a twenty year old can’t like the books that a seventy year old does), but it indicated a possible homogeneity of hiring.
There were some clever articles. For example, there was one on
Neil Gaiman had a contribution as well…that’s all good, giving us a reason to visit.
Hm…digging into this more, I like the site more.
Clicking on a book let me to a lot of information on it, including reviews, which can (if you want) be separated into critics and readers.
You can buy books through Bookish…but it doesn’t look to me like I could buy them to read on a Kindle easily. It looks to me like they use EPUB as their format.
Update: a little more experimentation showed me that I could click the Buy link, and from there click another link to buy the book at Amazon, so that’s not an issue.
Well, this is it…battle lines are drawn.
This list of partners:
- Hachette Book Group
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Inner Traditions
- Independent Publisher Group
- Kensington Publishing Corp.
- New Harbinger Publications
- Perseus Books Group
- Penguin Group (USA)
- Random House, Inc.
- Simon & Schuster
- Sourcebooks, Inc.
- USA TODAY
- John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Workman Publishing Company
- W. W. Norton & Company
is directly challenging Amazon on sales to consumers.
I’m going to get back on my soapbox for a minute and say again that Amazon should get a lot more social. This site is using elements of Pandora, but also MRQE.com (the Movie Review Query Engine) and others that pull in both editorial and crowd sourced reviews. I recently recommended that Amazon set up something like BookAnd (where customers could set up their own “bookstores” to suggest titles to others). Bookish is much better executed than I thought it might be, but I do think people would rather continue to go directly to Amazon if they could get equivalent content.
Soapbox. Me. Stepping off now.
Check out Bookish, and feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.