Sam Missingham, outgoing digital project manager at HarperCollins, is launching a website for book-lovers today (27th April) called Lounge Books.
The website intends to unearth "hidden gems" to help those looking for "people-powered" recommendations to discover new books, with its ultimate aim to help put more books into more hands.
Missingham says she plans to curate and run the website on a shoestring budget of £2,000. The initiative follows news of her departure from HarperCollins as digital project manager after the role was made redundant.
For the new website she will be working closely with the book blogging community, whom she refers to as "the engine of book discovery", with the intention of "amplifying the great work they do". An advisory board to the site meanwhile comprises authors including Nikesh Shukla, Matt Haig, Nick Harkaway and Jill Mansell, as well as trade figures including agent Julia Kingsford, co-founder of Kingsford Campbell, publishing director at Templar Publishing Lisa Edwards, Profile publisher James Spackman and Byte the Book founder Justine Solomons, among others.
Books coverage on the new website will extend to a wide range of genres, including crime, romance, young adult and science fiction, including dedicated sections devoted to debuts, women authors and "diverse voices". There is even a "book porn" tab, what Missingham calls "lickable books", referring to books with a design element whether tactile, beautifully designed or illustrated.
Website visitors can subscribe to the Lounge Love newsletter for book recommendations straight to their inboxes. The site has also curated a selection of literary gifts and offers opportunities for advertising.
"Running my own book website also gives me the freedom to support books and authors that I feel passionate about," Missingham told The Bookseller. "My hope for Lounge Books is that people discover great new books. As the number of books being published continues to grow rapidly, there is still a need for curation and recommendations. A lot of curation is already happening, such as the literary awards, competitions and prizes. I plan to include as many as possible on Lounge Books. I also find it quite hard to track the number of prizes and awards out there, so hopefully this will help."
She added: "I have had the idea for Lounge Books for several years and hope it can become something of real value in the industry. This will be a hobby and I will be hoping lots of people fancy collaborating with me on it."
Other immediate plans for Missingham, whose last day at HarperCollins is 12th May, includes consultancy work in audience, digital, marketing and social strategies, and as the keynote at three industry events this summer in Berlin, Salzburg and Bilbao.
Missingham is contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org. Its Twitter handle is @Lounge_Books.