The LA Times reports book discovery engine Zola has acquired Bookish, a recommendation vehicle jointly created by Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette Book Group. Separately, both had been unable to compete with Amazon, which acquired Goodreads in 2013, as the number one source of online book recommendations. But with the acquisition announced, LA Times writer Carolyn Kellogg notes a strategy that will further pit independent booksellers and traditional publishers against the e-tailing giant.
“What is clear about Zola is that it is casting its lot — at least so far — with independent booksellers,” Kellogg points out, referring specifically to Zola’s “IndiePledge” which informs Users that proceeds from their purchases will benefit the member indie bookstore of their choice.
Independent booksellers around the world have been marshaling their forces against Amazon for the last few years. One UK bookstore collected over 160,000 signatures to protest Amazon’s alleged ducking of corporate taxes “by reporting its European sales through a Luxembourg-based unit”. In the US, several booksellers complained Amazon reps were trying to get them to sell Kindles in their stores – an affront, considering the online retailer’s position as a competitor. French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti accused Amazon of being a “destroyer of bookshops”.
Meanwhile, publishers have been trying to regain control of their own industry from Amazon by introducing online recommendation engines like Bookish and Bookscout and throwing their weight behind the Nook, Barnes and Noble‘s answer to Amazon’s Kindle.
Of the Zola acquisition, Kellogg quoted Hachette Book Group Chief Executive Michael Peitsch as saying: “We are very pleased to have found a new owner for the site whose goals and interests are so closely aligned with the Bookish mission.”