What is Bookish’s “Dirty Little Secret”?

Bookish helps you discover books - published by the site's backers

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”.

You can read the full article here.

Dean Fetzer

News by Dean Fetzer

Dean Fetzer is originally from a small town in eastern Colorado, but has lived in London, England, for the past 21 years. After a career in graphic design, he started a pub review website in the late 90’s; He left that in 2011 to concentrate on his thriller writing, as well as offering publishing services for authors, poets and artists. When not writing - or in the pub - he can be found in the theatre, live music venues and travelling.

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edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing February 21, 2013 - 1:51pm

Another reason for us to call a certain company "Simon and Schuyster."

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK February 21, 2013 - 3:36pm

This has been going on for years in all kinds of industries. Why do you think Vevo only shows music videos from the three major labels and subsidiaries? It's practically impossible for independent labels to get videos on there as Vevo is owned, jointly, by the three major labels and a fourth company who runs it. Same with film distributors - you only see trailers on DVDs for other films distributed by the same company as the one you are watching. In books you read trailer-esque excerpts at the end for other books by the same publisher. This is all far from surprising.

Pat Hu's picture
Pat Hu February 21, 2013 - 7:35pm

The publishing houses that are partners with Bookish are certainly providing us access to their authors and exclusive material, but the editorial team is completely independent and have actually turned down some of the suggestions that have come their way from the houses. In addition, we're open and excited to get pitches from a variety of sources on books and authors that are of interest to our audience. Feel free to send your recommendations to editors@bookish.com. Pat - Biz Dev at Bookish