It is not often that a start-up brings innovation to an old technology. That is exactly what the Berlin books platform Inkitt wants to do.
Based in Berlin, Inkitt has raised 4 million dollars from investors Redalpine, Cavalry Ventures, Mueller Media, Frontline Ventures, Speedinvest and some Business Angels. To date, the company has raised a total of five million dollars.
On the Inkitt platform, authors can publish early parts of their works and get responses from a community of readers, for example, on the style or how the story is developing. But Inkitt has an unusual business model: if you publish your finished work on the platform and get a good response from the member community, you have a chance to publish the book. In the latter case, Inkitt will also earn money along with the author.
In the summer of 2015, Paulo Coelho published a part of his work “Manual of the Warrior of the Light” on the platform after Inkitt founder, Ali Albazaz, gave him a business card at the Frankfurt Book Fair. In the meantime, the company has received attention in numerous international news publications for its innovative business model.
The platform works like this: Inkitt analyses the reactions of the members of which there are approximately one million. It also depends on how intensively readers engage with the book, however. In addition, Inkitt has demographic data about the readers which is taken from their Facebook login. Based on this information the currently 15-strong team draws conclusions on possible target groups and thus the number of books which might be likely to sell. If everything works out positively the author will receive a publishing offer. A further twist is that the process is completely open to unknown authors who get the same chances as published authors.
So far, Albazaz and his colleagues seem to have interpreted the data correctly. Over the past two years, Inkitt had published 24 books, 22 of which were on Amazon’s best-seller list, according to the founder of the company. By means of print-on-demand, customers can order a printed copy, in addition to the option of an electronic version. Also, Inkitt recently added audio books to the list. While there are parallels with other companies such as the Chuangshi platform in China owned by the Tech Group Tencent, and Amazon is also working on all the data available to it, Inkitt sees itself as a pioneer of the data-based analysis of potential book success.
With the new capital, the team will expand to 25 employees. Following this, there is a planned expansion beyond Germany to the US and a New York office, because the majority of authors and readers are English-speaking. The goal is to gain access to US bookshops such as Barnes & Noble, said Albazaz.