Many people in publishing believe that you can't compete with Amazon, but it looks like someone forgot to tell that to TheReadingRoom.com.
This UK-based ebookstore and bookish social network will soon be selling paper books on their website. The news will be officially announced next week, but I got an early copy of the press release.
TheReadingRoom.com hasn't graced the pages of this blog before but I am passingly familiar with this social network. This site has around 500,000 members, and it falls somewhere between Goodreads and Anobii, the social ebookstore owned by Sainsbury's. One could also relate The Reading Room to the bookish social network that Copia had originally tried to create.
Like all of those sites, The Reading Room is focused on helping readers find their next book. TRR accomplishes this goal by letting users assemble virtual bookshelves, share recommendations, and post reviews. The user generated content is leavened with featured selections as well as expert reviews from the New York Times, The Guardian, and respected book bloggers.
This site launched an ebooks tore earlier this year, and it currently sells Epub ebooks which can be read with TRR's own reading apps for Android, iPad, and iPhone. And soon they will expand to include paper books. This will be a US-only operation to start, with the books supplied by Baker & Taylor.
I am looking forward to seeing how this will work out. As any of my regular readers can attest, one of my current rants is that hardly anyone is paying attention to the most important detail at surviving in the cutthroat ebook market: being better at selling ebooks than Amazon.
I could go on and on about sites that are worse at selling ebooks than Amazon (Tolino, Kobo, eBooks by Sainsbury's, Nook), but the important point here is that The Reading Room might turn out to be better at selling ebooks. Their recommendation model is certainly interesting enough and it could give them an advantage. Time will tell.