Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The (Publishing) Empire Strikes Back

The latest sign of just how dramatically the publishing industry is e-volving came late last week with the unveiling of Bookish.com, the online literary clearinghouse that three of the largest American trade publishers will be launching in July to directly challenge the digital hegemony of Amazon and iTunes.

The goal of the new venture, hatched by Hachette, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster, is to leverage the publishers' comparative advantage of inside insight and to position Bookish as "one-stop shopping for consumers to find everything they want to know about books in one place,"according to S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy. In practice, that means the site will aggregate the various publisher-produced marketing and supplementary materials, feature reader reviews, and advise bookfiends where to get their hands on copies of the latest titles -- both by recommending local bookstores and by offering books for sale direct from the site.

We will be watching this experiment closely, especially for its impact on authors. It's hard to say at this point just what that will be -- details about how Bookish will work are still fuzzy, and all the early focus has been on consumers. But it seems to hold some promise as a platform for writers to reach out to new readers and broaden their audience. Not only will the site host each book's promotional materials, it will also link books together via the recommendation engine -- one more way for your would-be audience to stumble upon your work.

Are we being overly bullish on Bookish? We'd love to hear your take.

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