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Publishers launch groundbreaking new websites

17 March 2014

Three new recently-launched websites show how publishers are trying to get to grips with readers and book-buyers directly.

Off the Shelf, which has been set up by the American publisher Simon & Schuster, is intended to revive and publicise backlist books by offering daily reviews, which can be received as an email, of books which are at least a year old. The reviews will be written by S & S staffers and will show the passion they feel for the books they are writing about. What's more, the site will be publisher-agnostic, so it's more about spreading the good news about favourite books than about selling their own titles.

Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO of Simon & Schuster, said: ‘With Off the Shelf, we aim to bring attention to books that were bestsellers you might have read or wanted to, books that you may have missed in the often overwhelming number of titles that get published every year, or simply books that have touched us as readers, left an indelible mark on us, and become friends that we revisit often. These are books that are often spine out in stores, buried on a home bookshelf, or deep within library stacks. We hope that shining a new light on them will help others discover a passion for them as well.'

Mills & Boon UK, part of Harlequin, has recently launched a readers' community site. The website will use technology which will match fans to new work from Mills & Boon. The platform will pull in social feeds, and combine them with blogs, author pages, video and more. Features will include books of the day and month, top 10s and customer reviews. Socialise, a new community on the site, will connect fans with authors.

Finally, Headline in the UK has launched a rather wonderful bloggers' site called bookbridgr. It allows book bloggers to request books, content and author interviews direct from the publisher and seems a clever way of acknowledging the fact the bloggers are becoming increasingly important in terms of spreading the word about new books.

Ben Willis, Headline's publicity and digital campaigns manager, and the creator of bookbridgr, said: ‘Over the last few years, book bloggers have played an increasingly important role in a book's publication. They not only command a huge amount of respect from the book industry and reading communities alike, but also often prove fundamental in creating that all-important early ‘buzz' for an author or book.'

He's right of course. It's all part of the changing framework of the book business.