May 31st, 2012

Bookish Is Late

[ETA to add last: why read me when you can read Passive Guy describe the problems in advance: http://www.thepassivevoice.com/05/2011/i-just-had-a-great-idea-lets-build-a-website-to-sell-books/]

I have ignored absolutely everything which has crossed my path about Bookish until today. Today, Macmillan apparently says some of the stuff in the court filings wasn't about Agency Model but was about Bookish. Something about "the government's deafening silence about Bookish indicates its acceptance of the legitimacy of the joint venture itself and of its formative process."

So many things wrong here. I'll take them in order.

(1) The government not speaking doesn't make something legal. Period. End. Ever. It does not work that way.

(2) Even if Bookish were legal (which it may well be), according to Hovenkamp, joint ventures in a market dominated by a half dozen players invite additional scrutiny because they make possible communication that would facilitate price fixing and other cartel behavior.

(3) Bookish is supposed to be a few publishers getting together to run a recommendations engine, editorial content, facilitate "book discovery", and sell books. Here's the announcement from May 2011 in Publisher's Weekly.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/47121-s-s-penguin-hachette-back-bookish-online-book-site.html

Some highlights:

This is from early May 2011.

"Bookish will sell books in print and digital formats directly from the site and will stock complete frontlist and backlist titles from all publishers. Lemgruber said he is in discussions now with a third party to power the e-commerce option. Bookish, which plans to launch before Labor Day, also hopes to find ways to work with retailers to find ways to work together by providing links to different retailers."

(Hey, that looks like a nascent cartel, doesn't it? Don't go there don't go there don't go there. That's not important.) They plan to launch a _really_ complex website (they'd need to do fulfillment on physical objects and e-objects and coordinate with other retail websites and supply a recommendations engine and, oh, never mind). In four months.

Of course Bookish is late.

Who was laughing at the time? I just ignored it, because I figured it wasn't ever going to happen -- it smelled like Microsoft-style vaporware, only with less clout behind it, and no obvious exit-strategy of buying the competitor you're trying to put out of business. But I bet somebody was laughing. Anyone who read _Mythical Man-Month_ for sure, right?

ETA:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelbrodesky

If I understand this: "Reduced monthly EC2/S3 spending from 26K/month to 6K/month by ..." correctly, it would sort of imply that Bookish development is occurring on Amazon's cloud services. Heh heh heh heh. I should have made the subject line "Amazon is taking over the world".

ETAYA:

An earlier guy on the team:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/andyparsons

ETA I lied here's more: Yup, Bookish development occurred on Amazon's cloud. And Parson's complained about it.

http://www.devx.com/DailyNews/Article/47345