What is Bookish’s “Dirty Little Secret”?
With everyone jumping on the social media bandwagon these days, there’s bound to be some, shall we say, ‘miscalculations’. And judging by Peter Winkler’s post on HuffPo yesterday, readers are right to take each new promised breakthrough with a pinch of salt.
If, like me, you’re already skeptical about new developments in the book world, then this isn’t going to be a shock: Winkler’s investigations into new book site, Bookish.com, turned up a dirty little secret.
The email I received inviting me to visit Bookish describes it as "A New Destination For Book Discovery." Bookish's ostensible purpose is to help readers discover new books in their personal range of interests. "Discoverability," of course, is the latest favorite buzzword in publishing. Bookish also boasts of exclusive content from major authors. It didn't take long for me to discover Bookish's dirty little secret. Hint – Bookish isn't there to help you discover new books.
Bookish will help you discover new books all right, just so long as they’re published by the big six backers behind the new site. Winkler quickly discovered that all the authors featured on the site and writing or being written about are tied to the big six publishers behind the site, namely Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group (USA), and Simon & Schuster or one of their imprints.
Ads on the site take the user to the publisher’s website and give you the option to buy the book direct, but at a discount often nowhere near that given on Amazon (they don’t even link to Amazon as an option). Penguin goes one step further and doesn’t even offer a discount, but you can buy all their books at full price. Gee, thanks. And don’t get me started on the site’s “recommendation tool”.
So, is this the future of online book selling? Propagandist fronts claiming to help you, but only steering readers back into the fold of traditional publishing? I somehow doubt it, but given the still relatively free nature of the internet, it seems like this might just be the first return salvo in the battle for eyes and buyers. To me, it’s just another reminder that even in the 21st Century there’s still validity in the old maxim “buyer beware”.
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