July 23, 2013

BuzzFeed Books launched quietly Monday. “We’re running it kind of informally because we already had a ton of book content on BuzzFeed and now it’s just the space for that to live,” Summer Anne Burton, the site’s managing editorial director and the “point person” for the books vertical, said by phone.

The idea for a books page sprang from a wildly successful May post by Executive Editor Doree Shafrir, “65 Books You Need To Read In Your 20s.” While there are no plans for BuzzFeed Books to have dedicated staff, Burton said, “pretty much everyone who works here is a reader, so it was a natural fit.” (Burton worked at the Austin, Texas, store BookPeople “for most of my 20s,” she said.)

BuzzFeed Books probably won’t have reviews, at least not traditional ones, Burton said. Lists and “book identity features” will be more of what you’ll find there. Librarians and fans of young-adult fiction are already reading the site in numbers, she said, and BuzzFeed is already playing with public domain works.

For instance, the site posted the entirety of George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” at the beginning of July, she notes (the byline lists Eliot as a contributor to BuzzFeed’s community section, where Burton says a lot of users and publishers are creating books-related content). “A lot of people were confused, but you know why not?” she said.

The section has no formal relationship with BuzzFeed’s longform “BuzzReads” section, which debuted in March, though Burton reckons the audiences for both verticals’ content may have some crossover: “I do think it sort of speaks to the same part of people that want to read really intelligent things that are interesting and share those things because it reflects awesomely on them.”

Related: How BuzzFeed’s community section works

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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