Product Hunt aims to become the Oprah Book Club of Silicon Valley

July 23, 2015, 2:00 PM UTC
Frankfurt Book Fair 2012
FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: A stack of books at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 11, 2012 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Frankfurt Book Fair is the largest in the world and will run from October 10-14, 2012.on October 11, 2012 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images)
Photograph by Hannelore Foerster — Getty Images

Product Hunt might have achieved darling status among tech enthusiasts, investors and entrepreneurs, but its new challenge is to reproduce that success with book lovers.

On Thursday, the startup launched the third vertical of its online leaderboard and community, and this one is focused on books. Last month, the startup founded by CEO Ryan Hoover in late 2013 took its first foray beyond tech products with the launch of its games-focused vertical, and hints of the books vertical have quietly appeared since then on social media.

Similar to the original Product Hunt, the books vertical will consist of a leaderboard with daily submissions from community members and the startup’s own moderators, which community members can vote up and discuss in comment sections. Books will include new releases as well as hidden gems and re-releases. Anyone who is already a member of Product Hunt will be able to get access to the new vertical, Product Hunt’s Erik Torenberg told Fortune in an email.

“Our audience loves to read. Zero to One has 500 upvotes on Product Hunt. Bookstck, a collection of favorite book lists, has nearly 1000. When we started a Product Hunt book club to read Eric Ries’s book, a few thousand joined,” Torenberg wrote in a blog post about the new vertical.

In keeping with Product Hunt’s well-known focus on interacting with community members, it’s planning to hold regular quest-and-answer sessions with authors, starting with Ashlee Vance, Lev Grossman, Andy Weir, Kevin Kelly, Dayna Tortorici, Seth Godin, Amanda Palmer, Dan Ariely, Neil Strauss, Aliza Light, Tyler Cowen, and Dan Pink, among others.

The new books vertical will also be coupled with a book club, which Product Hunt has already begun to advertise. First up is Businessweek reporter Ashlee Vance’s newly released Elon Musk about the serial entrepreneur. To kick off the book club, Product Hunt is encouraging community members around the world to host their own book club meetings to discuss the book this weekend.

To be fair, book clubs and lists of people’s recommended books and readings are nothing new — Quibb, another online community, lets tech professionals share and discuss articles and other writing in a similar forum. But where it could potentially provide a new opportunity for authors and others interested in books and media, is as a soundboard for prototyping, if you will. Hundreds of amateurs have used Product Hunt to get early adopter feedback on apps and side projects, and authors could do the same — and not just with their writing, but also for new media ideas.

“What does reading look like on the phone? How do we share what we read easier and more effectively? How does the content itself change to adapt to these mediums? Product Hunt Books will be an interesting playground for these questions to play themselves out, too,” Torenberg writes.

(An earlier version misidentified author Ashlee Vance as writing for Newsweek instead of Businessweek. The story has been corrected.)

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