Saturday, August 18, 2007

Viking Penguin Book Club Launches Online

Viking Press and Penguin Books US have launched an online resource for reading groups at, which includes the ability to personalize the site's homepage; regular posts from authors, editors and sales and marketing people at Viking and Penguin; a forthcoming blog where readers can post comments and reviews; a monthly newsletter; weekly news, awards, author tour updates and contests/giveaways.

In addition, the site allows users to buy from the retailer of their choice, several of which link to each title's page.Viking and Penguin plan regularly to feature one new Viking hardcover, one new Penguin paperback and one Penguin Classic.

The first such titles are Deirdre McNamer's Red Rover (Viking), Meg Mullins's The Rug Merchant (Penguin), and Barbara Pym's Excellent Women (Penguin Classics).

The site's archive, which currently consists of more than 100 titles, is being expanded and includes titles by a range of authors picked to appeal to reading groups. It's designed to allow users to flip through titles as though browsing the shelves of a bookstore or library.

Clare Ferraro, president of Viking, said in a statement that the book club "is designed to give readers a home online where they know they will find beautifully written, high quality fiction and nonfiction."

Note from Bookman Beattie - this is a very impressive, sophisticated website, do be sure to have a look at it,(link above). I guess though this initiative will be seen by many booksellers as a further effort by a publisher to supply direct?

And now this comment from

"How is this possibly a book club?" asks a GalleyCat reader of the Viking Penguin Book Club, which launched earlier this week. Each month, the website—"designed to simulate the experience of browsing the shelves of a bookstore or library, while offering the speed and flexibility of a digital environment"—will feature one Viking hardcover, one Penguin paperback, and a Penguin Classics paperback, with links to author bios, reading group guides, and an assortment of links to online bookstores. (There's also a baseline archive of about 100 titles already installed.)

"This smells like a a fancy feature rather than a real book club," our reader continues. "Where is the community? Author involvement? Why is this in Flash?"

Penguin Group's press release promises "community" will be an added feature to the site, in the form of "a forthcoming blog where readers can post comments and reviews," along with messages from the authors and Viking/Penguin staffers. The publishers are confident the new site "will help fill the needs of the modern reader by offering the interactive digital content that readers crave today," but our reader isn't impressed yet. "I don't see a blog or anything other than a very clear BUY THE BOOK message," she says.

"If you're going to launch with all the features you're touting about in your press release, why not wait until then?"

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