Does the world need yet another website about books?
Well, that's exactly what Bookish is: a shiny new community revolving around a recommendation engine.
But before you lose interest entirely, it's actually quite clever. I told Bookish about my thing for China Mieville; it recommended I read Jeff VanderMeer. I fed it Tigana; Bookish responded with Tad Williams and Steven Erikson.
(Also Robin Hobb. Which makes me wonder if I should really be reading Robin Hobb. Thoughts?)
And all this while the engine's still in beta!
If the truth be told, though, I'm probably not in need of new books to read, and if I were, I'd really rather follow in the footsteps of a friend, or place my trust in one of the community's more reliable reviewers. But there are those, of course, without these fantastic facilities; without peers who share their interests, or absent access to (or tolerance for) certain social media.
And for those folks, Bookish could be brilliant.
If Twitter's any indication, however, news of the new resource has been met with a resounding meh. Why? I've heard the lack of user-generated content cited as a particularly singular reason why Bookish is irrelevant, or just utter rubbish. But even at this early stage, users can submit quotes, reviews, and I don't know what else.
Why the single-minded emphasis on user-generated content anyway? I appreciate the added value such integration represents at the best of times, but the cranky old man in me can't help but wonder, when are those? Where are those? In my experience of social media, opening the doors to all comers makes for a mixed bag of good and bad.
What's the problem with old-fashioned curated content anyway? Why does everything need to be about everyone?
Basically, why the hate for Bookish?
Does every medium have to be social to survive in this day and age? Let's face it: nothing is likely to supplant Facebook at this stage, so why risk ruining a good thing trying to put in hooks for users who won't care anyway?
But let's circle back to the first question I posed in this post: does the world need yet another website about books? Well no, of course not. But what's the harm in it, exactly? Indeed, when has the internet, and social media especially, ever been about need?