Books sound like a natural for social networks: Long before MySpace, after all, there were book clubs. The top dog is Librarything, an online book club where users catalogue their libraries: Launched in 2005, it boasts 300,000 members and almost as many book reviews. In the meantime, both Seattle-based Shelfari –whose marketing techniques managed to irritate writers at the NY Observer– and Goodreads have offered up respectable competition.
Fashionably late comes Bookspoke, a NYC-based startup that launched last month. Bookspoke tries to bring writers and publishers on board, offering print-on-demand services and digital publishing, in addition to the standard book recommendations and reviews.
The user base is still quite small –a few hundred visitors a week, according to cofounder Jonathan Brodsky– and the website’s “database of over 2.8 million books” seems to mostly consist of links to Amazon pages. What is most promising is its diversified business model, which doesn’t depend on advertising: Brodsky expects revenues to come from books sold through Amazon, printing and publishing fees, and subscription fees for writers, which will hover around $15 once traffic starts to pick up. Good luck.