Publishers, Waterstones Turn Book Discovery Network In To Retail Store

HMV (LSE: HMV), HarperCollins, Penguin and Random House are financing a new “social retail” service aiming to help readers find, buy and share books.

Don’t say “ for books”, but aNobii lets people put their reading material on a web “shelf”, share them with friends and discover related books.

The site was originally formed as a social network in Hong Kong in 2006, but those companies, led by HMV, last year invested an undisclosed amount in it, aiming to bolt on retail tools which will help users actually buy books they find.

“HMV and the publishers were keen to create an open platform in the rapidly growing market for digital books,” a Nobii tells paidContent:UK. “Against a backdrop of growing interest and activity in ebooks, they brought in internet entrepreneur, Matteo Berlucchi who set up a company that then acquired aNobii.”

It sounds like some of the best bits of Amazon’s own recommendation engine. aNobii is not disclosing the investment size. HMV owns the Waterstone bookseller and part-owns its digital distribution partner 7digital, so we wouldn’t bet against finding aNobii inside its own technology in future.

The company will be led by Berlucchi, the Livestation CEO, who will stay on with the online news video company. Ex Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Europe VP Simon Murdoch, ex eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) director Matthew Hardcastle, ex Reuters (NYSE: TRI) CFO and aNobii’s original founder Greg Sung will also take executive positions.

“We want to create a social commerce platform that will allow people to find, share and buy books beyond the bestseller lists with an emphasis on creating an environment where people can talk about the books they love,” Berlucchi says.