Every morning at 6:00 a.m., more than 5 million subscribers receive an email newsletter from theSkimm.
Launched by former NBC producers Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin in 2012, theSkimm is a daily sum-up of top headlines rewritten for a millennial audience.
The startup’s motto is that it’s “making it easier to be smarter.”
TheSkimm has added several different features since launching the newsletter. One of its most popular, however, is its SkimmReads book recommendation engine, which is being called the next iteration of the wildly popular “Oprah’s Book Club.”
The first book theSkimm’s editors chose was “Flash Boys” by Michael Lewis.
“When we started theSkimm, it was right before the long weekends of the summer, and that’s always when we’re trying to figure out what to read next,” Zakin told Business Insider. “Danielle and I have always been lifelong voracious readers, and theSkimm has always been true to who we are as people.”
TheSkimm’s book recommendations, which now come out in the newsletter every Friday, have proven to be huge drivers of sales. According to the startup, books have moved up an average of 3,000 spots on Amazon’s Best Sellers ranking shortly after being highlighted in the newsletter.
Elan Mastai’s “All Our Wrong Todays,” for example, moved up from No. 4,110 to No. 198 on Amazon’s ranking after it was put in SkimmReads on March 31. “The Thousandth Floor,” written by Katherine McGee, moved from No. 4,586 to No. 15 after its appearance in SkimmReads on September 30, 2016.
TheSkimm, which does get a percentage of sales of the products its editors recommend (though they declined to share exact numbers), has also begun suggesting wines that pair well with certain reads. They will name a rosé that goes well with a new beach read, for example.
“We drink wine when we read books. It’s just what we do,” Zakin said. “When we started recommending wines with books, our wine partners told us they were selling more wine between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. than they do in a whole week.”
Publishers have taken note.
“TheSkimm has turned into the holy grail for book publicists right now,” said Victoria Comella, director of publicity at HarperCollins. “It taps into the exact right audience — young women who are by all accounts the highest demographic of book readers out there. There used to be Oprah, now we have theSkimm.”
Authors who have been featured are also seeing a boost in buzz around their books.
“TheSkimm has become a force in the world of books. I still remember the day they featured ‘The Traitor’s Wife’ in the SkimmReads section,” Allison Pataki, author of “The Traitor’s Wife,” “The Accidental Empress,” and “Sisi,” said. “Sales spiked that day, and people came out of the woodwork to say that they had seen it on their daily email.”
“TheSkimm has quickly established itself as a tastemaker and a key driver of trends and word-of-mouth buzz.”
Christina Baker Kline, author of “Orphan Train” and “A Piece of the World” called theSkimm “a defibrillator for books: a jolt in sales and prestige like nothing else.”
It’s no accident that SkimmReads has drawn comparisons to “Oprah’s Book Club.” Oprah herself is a noted reader of theSkimm, in addition to being an inspiration for the startup’s book recommendations.
“We were really inspired by Oprah, how she was making reading part of a conversation and part of what you do with your friends. She inspired millions of readers to find their next favourite book,” Weisberg said. “We wanted to start SkimmReads to be an engine for our generation’s next favourite read.”
In the meantime, theSkimm’s New York headquarters have completely filled up with books sent over by publicists.
Last week, the team opened theSkimm offices up to the public and posted an Instagram inviting people to stop by and take the books for free.
“They were all gone within an hour,” Zakin said.