It took this publisher-backed startup over 2 years to cobble together a website, but as Mike Cane revealed today the delay was probably not due to technical issues. No, the reason this website took so long to launch was that the lawyers took their time in tweaking the terms of service.
I wasn't included in the media briefings prior to the launch, so I've spent the day reading what others have written about the site. So far I'm not impressed. All the coverage gives me the feeling that rather than being something new, Bookish is an outcropping of the legacy publishing monolith. What's more, until Mike turned up the details about the TOS I hadn't really found anything worth saying about the site. It just doesn't look that interesting.
Mike, on the other hand, spent at least some time today parsing out the TOS. He's posted a number of excerpts that show an overly controlling nature, but there's one in particular that is both absurd and amusing:
13. LINKING POLICY
BOOKISH grants you the revocable permission to link to the Site; provided, however, that your web site, or any third party web sites that link to the Site: (a) must not frame or create a browser or border environment around any of the content on the Site or otherwise mirror any part of the Site without BOOKISH’s express written consent; (b) must not imply that BOOKISH or the Site is endorsing or sponsoring it or its products, unless BOOKISH has given its prior written consent; (c) must not present false information about, or disparage, tarnish, or otherwise, in BOOKISH’s sole opinion, harm BOOKISH or its products or services;
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in these TOU, BOOKISH reserves the right to prohibit linking to the Site for any reason in our sole and absolute discretion even if the linking complies with the requirements described above.
According to Bookish I'm not allowed to point and giggle at their TOS. If I do so then I have violated their TOS.
This is 2013. Can you believe that there would be a company so out of touch that they would actually put this restriction in their TOS? If I had not read the above text I would have insisted it was impossible. But there it is.
So I guess this means that Bookish is a new attempt for publishers to interface with readers, but only under the control and supervision of the publishers' lawyers. Yeah, I'm sure that is going to go well.