NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With music streaming service Tidal, stylish mega-star and music mogul Jay-Z is following the path of boring, tweed-wearing book publishers. And if you know anything about how book publishers have fared in the age of Amazon (AMZN), you know it's not a path to success.
In 2011, three of the world's largest book publishers -- Hachette, Simon & Schuster (CBS) and Penguin, which is now part of Penguin Random House -- banded together to create an online book retail site called Bookish, which they hoped would counter Amazon. At the time, the companies said the site was created for "engaging and informing readers about authors and books," essentially, giving them smarter, more useful recommendations on books. But most observers clearly understood that the actual goal was to challenge Amazon's growing hegemony in book retail.
Two years and two CEOs after it was initially announced, Bookish launched as a book retail site, as suspected. Publishers cheered. They were upset that Amazon was selling their books and e-books for less, devaluing their products.
Looking into the future, many of them envisioned a scenario -- which has since come to pass -- where Amazon would be such a dominant retailer that it could force even the largest publishers into terms they didn't favor. A viable retail alternative would help prevent or at least delay that prophecy.
To beat Amazon, Bookish tried offering what it said was a better book recommendation engine, a close connection to authors, exclusive editorial content and a great reading experience for those purchasing e-books.