Today Libboo, a TechStars company, announced that it has raised a $1.1 million seed round. The investment was led by MassVentures, and was participated in by several angels, including former Compete CEO Don McLagan.
Publishing is a painful exercise. Advertising budgets for all the but the most famous of authors are diminutive and pathetic. This leaves the midlist and new authors, those published, agented, or independent, in the lurch.
Most certainly, any author can lean on their own distribution network, but past that, they have little access to other channels of promotion once their ramen-ad budget depletes. Which is a shame, as avid readers are often quite active in and around the social sides of the Internet.
Libboo wants to build the platform that solves each of the issues, by tying together active and digitally loud readers with authors whose books could use a shot in the arm of publicity from real folks, to real folks.
Using gamified elements, those active readers – ‘buzzers’ in the company’s parlance – are rewarded for sharing – ‘buzzing’ – about titles that Libboo recommends to them based on their own taste profile.
If you end up in the higher tiers of the buzzer ranks, Libboo will grant you a number of free digital copies of the book that you are talking up. Those will each be watermarked as ‘from the author to [Buzzer] to you,’ the final recipient. Buzzers can distribute them as they will, furthering the loop of promotion.
According to Libboo, in conversation with TNW, initial testing with its model has been exceptionally positive. TNW likes the idea behind Libboo as it serves a real need, tapping into natural energy in the reading community to help authors grow their profile and make the economics of publishing more feasible.
Currently, the company screens every book that enters its system. As that won’t scale, Libboo will introduce a new model in the future, but isn’t sure at this moment as to what form it will take.
As a final note, Libboo isn’t sure how it will make money. The company is working on solving the problem that it sees, and is confident that once it achieves that, the dollars will follow; for all the talk of the end of publishing, books remain a massive business, so their view isn’t entirely unfounded. Still, it’s always unsettling to see that panel of a lean canvas left open.
Top Image Credit: Casey Fleser