The site intends to build community and information around books and authors from all publishers, and though downplayed in the release, it will also sell ebooks and print books directly--along with referring customers to other retailers. The announcement underscores "Bookish is dedicated to working closely with book retailers, and in the coming weeks will reach out to explore ways to complement the retailers' efforts and enhance all reader experiences."
Hachette ceo David Young says that key retailers were briefed earlier this week and they will have "dynamic discussions starting today with retailers about what we can do to help." He says "the role of the bookshop is going to be constantly emphasized and exalted" on the site, including comprehensive events listings and notifications. Simon & Schuster ceo Carolyn Reidy says the site is meant to be "complementary to the whole retail environment, not only competitive," and indicates one reason they have announced ahead of the actual launch is so that they can engage in conversations with retailers. In turn, Bookish ceo Paulo Lemgruber, who "developed and ran digital businesses for Comcast and Reed Elsevier," tells us that they are "in discussions with a third party that will do all the ecommerce for print, audio and ebooks." He says that vendor "will be setting all the prices." Lemgruber says he has been working on the project for almost a year.
Young says the venture was sparked Reidy. Hachette Book Group joined quickly with "complete support" from Lagardere management and Penguin followed suit, at which point the partners had "enough money and commitment to make this happen." Young notes they relied constantly on advice and supervision from counsel to avoid any anti-trust issues, and he reinforces that the site itself will be independently run and make all decisions about pricing and promotion on its own.
Reidy herself says the idea "came out of discussions among publishers of the need...to create one-stop shopping for consumers to find everything they want to know about books in one place" and gather up all the sophisticated marketing and supplementary materials that publishers have been creating. She adds that they conducted consumer research which confirmed "consumers were frustrated that they couldn't go to one place," admitting that "no consumers wants to go around to dozens of publisher sites to find what they want." The second original objective was "to create a recommendation engine that was better than anything out there," drawing in part on what publishers and authors know about their own titles.
The consumer soft-launch is planned for mid-July or thereabout. Bowker is their data provider, so the site will have comprehensive book data from the start, and AOL is billed as a participant in a "strategic alliance." AOL will "provide advertising sales support for the new venture" and the AOL Huffington Post Media Group is "partnering with the site to engage users with Bookish content across the network's wide range of destination sites." Lemgruber says that advertising is envisioned as "our primary revenue" stream, which attests to their goal of attracting considerable consumer traffic. "The number one goal of the first year is to build as large as an audience as possible," he adds.
Lemgruber says the content will be a mix of aggregation, material supplied by publishers and authors, community-driven lists, and original material. But "the main editorial goal is to provide great recommendations" on what to read next. The site will also be "optimized for tablets and mobile." Editor-in-chief Charlie Rogers was EIC at NBC Universal and has worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and The Paris Review; CTO Andy Parsons was CTO for Outside.in and Digital Railroad. Current staff is a team of 14 people.