A new, free magazine titled Booklaunch will be launched later this month, aiming to recreate the experience of browsing a bookshop in print. The publication will feature 1,500-word extracts from recently published and forthcoming titles, spanning a range of genres, with publishers paying a fee for the extracts' inclusion.
The first issue, out mid-September, is promised to have a print run of 35,000, as well as being available online. Distribution channels include the London Review of Books, where it will be distributed as an insert, and bookshops can stock issues of the magazine on request. The ambition is to expand the circulation of the magazine to 100,000 and to run at least quarterly, according to founder Stephen Games, previously a BBC documentary maker and one-time arts correspondent of the Independent.
Games told The Bookseller: "Reviewers are absolutely wonderful but many times I’ve read a review and bought the book and it’s not at all what I’m expecting. When you’re reading a review, you’re reading the reviewer: they can be entertaining and thought-provoking, but it’s them. My question was, 'How do we allow the writer of the book to speak directly to the audience?' Effectively what we're doing is replicating the experience of browsing the bookshop. You pick the book off the shelf, you flick through a few pages, and you think, 'I like that, I'll buy it'."
Despite operating under a pay-to-play model, Games said there is a high bar and successful submissions would have to be “good value”, indicating an inclination towards books at the literary, intellectual or “up-market” end of the market. There will be one specially “featured title” and “editor’s choice” per issue. A QR code on the page will link through to purchase of the book, with orders then processed by Blackwell's (from whom the magazine will take a referral fee).
In the end papers of the magazine, Booklaunch is planned to act as a “marriage broker” for helping up-and-coming authors to find literary agents and publishers, showcasing extracts from a small number of unpublished manuscripts (or else from books, without a UK deal, that have done well in foreign markets), again for a fee.