Bookish, new website for readers, launches

12:18 AM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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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.

Bookish, which will share content with USA TODAY, is financed by three of the six largest publishers, Hachette, Penguin and Simon & Schuster.

Bookish 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 publisher."

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.

It's 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 added later.

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."

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