Bookish Has a Dirty Little Secret
When Bookish launched a couple weeks back I didn’t think much of the site. The press release claimed that Bookish would be a great community that would help readers find their next book, only there was no community and the discovery engine was less than amazing.
I suspected at the time that Bookish would turn out to be little more than a marketing tool for the 3 publishers who financed the site, and today I learned that my suspicions were correct.
Peter Winkler, writing for The Huffington Post, noticed that all of the books promoted on Bookish were published by either Hachette, Penguin, or Simon & Schuster:
The top stories at Bookish when I first visited it on Feb. 5 were Elizabeth Gilbert’s take on Philip Roth’s advice to a novelist to quit writing, an interview with novelists Michael Connelly and Michael Koryta, the editors of The Onion reviewing Fifty Shades of Grey and The Art of War, and an exclusive excerpt from Harlan Coben’s latest novel, Six Years. There were additional interviews with Po Bronson, Rhonda Byrne, author of The Magic, her second sequel to The Secret, and children’s book author Lucy Hawking.An ad on the right side of Bookish’s main page, for Jojo Moyes' novel, Me Before You, displaying Penguin Books' iconic logo, set my Spidey sense tingling.
"Hmm," I asked myself, "I wonder how many of these authors are published by the publishers behind Bookish?" A little sleuthing on my part quickly provided the answer: all of them.
I 'm not sure that comes as a surprise; I had assumed that the claims of editorial independence were bunk. I mean, why else would 3 publishers fund a site through 2 years of development if they weren’t going to use it to promote themselves?
But wait, there’s more. Not only does the editorial content focus on book by these 3 publishers, so does a lot of the rest of the content on the site.
Peter reports that all of the exclusive author content is provided by authors signed to the 3 publishers. There is also adverts on most of the pages, all for books published by Hachette, Penguin, or Simon & Schuster.
And even the discovery engine left a lot to be desired. In spite of the fact that this site ws originally announced in 2010, Peter found the results to be anemic at best. It wasn’t able to find his book when he typed in the title, but then again he wasn’t published by Hachette, Penguin, or Simon & Schuster. And it turns out that Bookish’s much-vaunted discovery engine can only recommend from a rather limited selection of titles – around 250k at the moment. That’s not even as large as the combined back list of Hachette, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster.
Anyone want to take bets on how long before Bookish is shut down as a failure?
My money is on Bookish not lasting 6 months (barring a major reorganization), but I could be wrong. But at the very least I am sure that most will agree that Bookish will die in a shorter amount of time than the site took to develop.