'What should I read?' A new site called Bookish hopes to tell you

Publisher-supported Bookish hopes to become the Rotten Tomatoes of the book world.

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    Of the hundreds of thousands of books published annually, Bookish hopes to help readers find that handful that they will like best.
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Folks looking for movie reviews and recommendations generally head for IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, or Netflix. Music lovers bookmark Pitchfork or Pandora. But where do bibliophiles turn for inspiration?

It seems our time has finally come.

Three publishers announced Friday a new venture called Bookish.com, a one-stop site for all things literary. The site will be a mix of social and editorial content, including book reviews, book excerpts, suggestions on books to buy, and news about authors.

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Former Comcast digital media executive Paulo Lemgruber and NBC Universal’s Charlie Rogers will head the venture, which is being supported by Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group USA, and Hachette Book Group. (Although supported by these three publishers, Bookish will be editorially independent.)

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find beach reads on Bookish – it’s expected to be up and running by Labor Day – but you’ll have plenty to sink your teeth into come fall.

Bookish isn’t the first site to attempt to create an online community of bibliophiles. The social reading site Goodreads offers that already and is growing at a rapid clip of about 100,000 new users per month. But Goodreads has suffered from problems like reviews posted for books that aren’t yet written and a tendency to spam users and their contacts. Complaints have been rolling in.

And with chains like Borders liquidating its stores and many independent bookshops closing their doors, readers have fewer places to find books and publishers have fewer places to promote books.

“There’s a frustration with book consumers that there’s no one-stop shopping when it comes to information about books and authors,” Carolyn Reidy, the president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster, told The New York Times. “We need to try to recreate the discovery of new books that currently happens in the physical environment, but which we don’t believe is currently happening online.”

Bookish hopes to become the IMDb of the book world, Mr. Lemgruber told Publishers Weekly. He said the site will include breaking news, author interviews, excerpts, reviews, marketing materials, and other tools that will help readers pick a book.

Like Amazon, Netflix, and Pandora, Bookish will recommend books to users based on information they provide and books they purchase, helping readers to home in on the handful of books they may like from the hundreds of thousands published annually. A recent question posed on the site asked, “What’s your favorite book from childhood?” “The more information readers provide the more customized the recommendations can be,” Penguin Group USA CEO David Shanks told Publishers Weekly.

The site, which will have advertising support from Huffington Post, a staff of some 20 people, and books from at least 14 participating publishers, essentially exists to answer one question, said Mr. Shanks.

“Which book should I read next?”

He hopes you’ll always find an answer at Bookish.com.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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