Publishers Lunch opens online bookstore, Bookateria

Publishers Lunch, the daily newsletter from publishing industry website, has opened an online bookstore in partnership with Random House. Bookateria‘s goal is to aid discovery of new titles and “merchandise the daily book publishing news.”

Bookateria doesn’t actually sell books — rather, it lists over two million titles with affiliate links to a number of retailers: IndieBound, Amazon (s AMZN), Books-A-Million, Apple’s iBookstore (s AAPL) and Barnes & Noble (s BKS). “We know from our readers that every new deal report and daily news item triggers purchase impulses among our audience, who are avid book consumers,” Publishers Lunch founder Michael Cader said. “So we’ve long been looking for a solution that lets us connect the news and our proprietary data directly to a store environment to drive book sales, while supporting the entire bookselling environment, without favoring any one party or competing directly with booksellers who provide such a valuable service.”

Some of what you’ll find in the store:

Bookateria features include “Books in the News” front and center every day, along with regular highlighting of books newly published, newly announced, and authors newly signed. “Industry Lists” gather “buzz books” and “best of 2012” selections from all over, alongside Publishers Lunch’s own aggregated lists, for the most comprehensive “best of the best” presentation anywhere. By drawing on the entire industry, Bookateria’s “Bookseller Picks” present customers with inclusive recommendations from a variety of booksellers–Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Costco, and the American Bookseller Association’s Indie Bound program–all in one place. Bookateria’s rich catalog also gives agents, authors, and others in the trade an easy place to link to in order to promote discovery and sale of their own books.

Bookateria could compete with online bookselling startups like Zola Books and the long-delayed publishers’ joint venture Bookish. Zola has yet to launch the retail portion of its site; it’s focusing only on the social aspect for now. And Bookish, backed by Hachette, Penguin and Simon & Schuster, has been delayed by over a year and undergone several CEO changes. Setting up the actual retail side of an online bookstore is very difficult. Bookateria sidesteps that by outsourcing the actual buying of the books to retailers, and focusing on merchandising and discovery instead. Unlike Zola, Bookateria also already has a built-in audience — the 45,000 book publishing professionals who subscribe to the Publishers Lunch newsletter. (Bookateria is open to the general population, too.)

When I asked him about comparisons to other sites, Cader told me that “people in publishing realize that the more ideas we all have for surfacing, curating and discovering books, the better.” He noted that “One diffference between Bookateria and some other on-the-launchpad sites is that we are not aspiring to change how people purchase or read their books–we’re providing a new way to find and research books to buy, and giving community members a neutral place to link to as well. The marketplace has room for–and needs–lots of new ideas.”

Random House built the bookstore and is providing technology, staff and support services. “Random House, Inc. is committed to providing readers with more discovery opportunities for authors and their books. Powering new online bookselling environments like Bookateria will enable us to do just that,” Amanda Close, SVP marketplace development at Random House, said in a statement.

Revenue comes through affiliate links for now, but Cader said Bookateria will eventually offer “limited advertisement.” He added, “The starting ‘model’ is that this makes good sense for our overall business and audiences, and is a good idea for the industry that we serve. It may also turn out to be a decent ‘business’ unto itself some day, but that wasn’t the driving motivation behind its creation.”