Bookish aims to grow book market

NEW YORK: Bookish, a book review and retail website backed by three major publishers, is using social and digital media to create personal connections between readers and authors.

NEW YORK: Bookish, a book review and retail website backed by three major publishers, is using social and digital media to create personal connections between readers and authors.

The site, which launched this month, includes author interviews and videos, reviews, reading lists, and a recommendation engine. Bookish sells books directly or refers users to other online retailers such as Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and independent booksellers. It also unveiled a mobile e-reader app for iOS last week, adding to its version for Android devices.

Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster founded Bookish and remain shareholders in the company, though Bookish CEO Ardy Khazaei said the publishers have no editorial involvement. The site's goal is to connect readers with books and authors and to “help expand the book market,” he explained.

Social media is playing a large role in those outreach efforts. Bookish has platforms on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Its Pinterest page includes photo boards of libraries, book-related graffiti, literary tattoos, and reading infographics. Bookish is also holding regular Twitter chats with authors.

The firm LBG Public Relations is assisting with PR efforts. Bookish is targeting media including business and technology outlets, publishing industry trades, literary magazines, and bloggers.

Bookish has a staff of seven editors who oversee 18 different subject areas, Khazaei said. The editors are responsible for writing articles as well as procuring exclusive content for the site. For example, Bookish published a piece Tuesday by record producer Clive Davis in which he selected his favorite music books.

“We've tried to create more depth of content and information relating to books and authors than you might get in most places online, as well as bring in the independent expert point of view,” added Khazaei. “We want to become an important venue for consumers to be exposed to things relating to books and authors.”

Bookish's efforts to grow the book market come at a time when the publishing and bookselling industries are undergoing significant change. Last week, the US Justice Department approved the merger between Penguin and Random House, which would create the largest book publisher in the world. Publishing executives have said the combined company would help them compete with the likes of Amazon, Google, and Apple.

Meanwhile, bookselling chain Barnes & Noble is struggling. The company said last week that it would not meet quarterly earnings expectations and sales in its Nook digital unit are declining.

“With fewer physical bookstores around, the discovery of new books has become more problematic for the industry,” Khazaei noted. “We fit in between the consumer and the transaction – helping them find books, but also get information about books and authors.”

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