The Buzz About Bookish

The highly-anticipated new retail hub for book lovers backed by the “big three” publishers is finally up and running after its announcement in 2011. The goal of Bookish is to make recommendations based on readers’ tastes and publish original editorial content (independent of S&S, Penguin and Hachette). The journalist in me is skeptical, while my content marketing evil twin is twiddling her thumbs shouting, “Brilliant!”

Could this launch come at a better time for all the big publishers that are on board? I don’t think so. Not when Amazon has gained so much power in the last few months and Barnes and Noble continues to flounder. I know what you’re thinking — I’m thinking it, too. Does Bookish seriously stand a chance against Amazon? It does have partnerships with The Onion and USA Today, and no doubt the big publishers are on board, but who’s really going to buy from Bookish when there’s Amazon?

Feeling a little guilty — I am an Amazon evangelist — I signed up and took Bookish for a spin. My initial impression is that Bookish has potential as a more Apple-esque GoodReads in the sense that Bookish has a slick, inviting interface. Maybe it’s because I’m a Mac, not a PC, but I’ve always found GoodReads’ interface too overwhelming to spend any real time with. To risk mixing metaphors, GoodReads recommendation engine is very similar to Netflix in the way it moves you through lists of books to rate to provide additional recommendations. Bookish isn’t quite as expansive or sophisticated yet, and they don’t have the user data to hold a candle to Amazon’s omniscient algorithm.

The real strength comes from the editorial staff at Bookish. They hand-pick recommendations (similar to the recommendations generated by Pandora’s team), and I must say that I’m impressed. Not only did the editors provide some recommendations for books that I’ve never heard of (and want to read), but they’ve also come out with some pretty great original content by their editors and famous authors. I will definitely be adding Bookish to my feed.

If you want to read more about the strategy behind Bookish and the details of their partnerships, check out this great article from Digital Book World.

What do you think? Will Bookish fall on its face, give Amazon a run for their money or turn into something completely different?