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Product Hunt Wants To Be The New Oprah’s Book Club

The popular product recommendation site is launching a new vertical for books.

Product Hunt Wants To Be The New Oprah’s Book Club
[Photo: Flickr user ami photography]

Product Hunt is expanding yet again. This time, the wildly popular product recommendation site is launching a new tab dedicated entirely to books. Product Hunt Books, which went live this morning, takes the site’s dead-simple, Reddit-style submission and voting mechanism for products and applies it to sci-fi romance novels, business biographies, and whatever other reading material tickles the collective fancy of its geeky community.

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“Our community was not only asking for a channel dedicated to book discovery and engagement but also posting and upvoting books on the site already,” says Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover. The sudden rise up the Product Hunt ranks of books like Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk biography and Eric Ries’s The Leader’s Guide suggested that there might be enough demand to support a vertical solely for books.

As easy as it would be to slap a “Books” link across the top of Product Hunt, this launch comes with a bit more fanfare than that. The site will host a series of Q&As with well-known authors like Tony Robbins, Amanda Palmer, Daniel Pink and Neil Strauss. At launch, Product Hunt has author “Ask Me Anything” sessions (borrowing again from Reddit conventions) booked through mid-September.

The site is also launching Product Hunt Book Club, a distributed reading group that will tackle one book at a time, starting with Vance’s Elon Musk biography.

It’s easy to look at this and say: Another book list? Aren’t Oprah, Amazon, and The New York Times enough? The same thing could have been said for the original incarnation of Product Hunt: A website for recommending products? We have a million of those. And indeed, we do. But somehow, Product Hunt managed to build a uniquely insightful and sought-after community for people making software, gadgets, and other technology.

For startups, has become a substantial and hotly desired part of any launch strategy. Making it to the front page typically leads to a flood of attention, press coverage, and mentorship, and sometimes even connects startups with new investors.

“Self-publishing is on the rise, and authors now have direct access to their audience online unlike ever before,” says Hoover. “As a result, it’s more difficult for authors to get noticed and consumers are overwhelmed with choice, creating an even bigger need for curation.”

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As with the launch of its games vertical last month, Product Hunt is hoping to bring its blend of simplicity and community-powered taste-making to the literary world. What works for apps and new hardware may or may not work for books, but Hoover is clearly confident enough to give it a shot.

This sort of lateral expansion is evidently how Product Hunt plans on scaling. Hoover won’t comment on which categories might be next, but he says the site tends to gravitate toward categories that have high levels of creation, as gaming and books do.

About the author

John Paul Titlow is a writer at Fast Company focused on music and technology, among other things.

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