Can Product Hunt Make Its Tech Audience Like Books Too (Or Just Tech Books)?

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A new books section that popular app and gadget discovery site Product Hunt is launching today is perhaps its first real reckoning moment — an opportunity to see whether a broader audience would use this kind of service.

“In some ways [books are] becoming more democratized in terms of distribution — people are self publishing,” said founder Ryan Hoover in an interview. “It’s an interesting place to curate this wealth of creation happening.”

This is only the third category that Product Hunt has launched after tech, and it represents its first real foray into a world distinct from Silicon Valley. The service, which allows people to submit and vote up their favorite new products, provides a curated daily list of the hottest new companies, apps and gadgets in the tech world.

And now book lovers can get a daily list of the best new books, curated by users. The site is kicking off the section’s launch with an AMA with author Neil Strauss (of “The Game”), who is previewing the first few chapters of his latest book “The Truth” exclusively to Product Hunt users.

Other authors who have agreed to do AMAs on Product Hunt include Ashlee Vance, who wrote the new Elon Musk book; Daniel Pink, author of “Drive”; and Tony Robbins of self-help fame. And well-known figures such as Mark Cuban have curated collections of their favorite books for others to peruse.

Product Hunt has raised $6.1 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and other investors.

Unlike with gaming, the company hasn’t hired someone full-time from the literary community to spearhead the category and build connections. As a result, Hoover suspects a lot of the book submissions initially will be technology-centric, since that’s Product Hunt’s current audience. It runs the risk of painting itself into a corner, becoming known in the publishing world as a place where only tech books are welcome.

Hoover acknowledged that’s a possibility, but said he wanted to launch books early so he could learn from people’s behavior and adapt to their needs. People might read a book weeks or months after they discover it, so how should Product Hunt build a community around that?

“I’m frankly getting more open to changing the [site] based on what makes sense for each category, tailoring to other audiences,” Hoover said. “Maybe something that works for technology doesn’t work for other things.”


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