By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY
After a year and a half's delay, Bookish.com, an ambitious website to help readers find and buy books they like, has launched.
which will share content with USA TODAY, is financed by three of the
six largest publishers, Hachette, Penguin and Simon & Schuster.
CEO Ardy Khazaei says its seven-person editorial staff will be
"completely independent and autonomous" in selecting books and themes to
write about. "We know we can't be a mouthpiece for a specific
Khazaei, a former vice president of electronic media
at HarperCollins, says the website is "not trying to steal sales" from
Amazon and other retailers. Rather, he says, it aims to "grow the
market" by helping "readers connect with books and authors they love or
will come to love by discovering them."
Bookish will sell both
print and e-books on its site, but allow customers to buy from other
sources, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and IndieBound, the joint
marketing program of independent bookstores.
In addition to book recommendations and author profiles, the website will offer original essays, interviews and book excerpts.
launching with an interview with novelists Michael Koryta and Michael
Connelly, who reveals that he was 100 pages into a new novel about a
school shooting when the massacre occurred in Newtown, Conn. Connelly
says he's "put that book on the shelf. ... It's not what I want to be
writing about at the moment."
In the collaboration with USA TODAY,
the newspaper's website will post content from Bookish, which will also
post content from the newspaper. Other media collaborations may be
Bookish originally announced it would launch in the
summer of 2011. Khazaei attributed the delays to "data and metadata
issues," but says, "now we're ready to go." He is the venture's third
CEO since 2010. "I don't know all the history," he says, "but this is an
exciting opportunity for someone who loves books."