It’s tough being an indie author. These writers lack the marketing resources of those working with big publishing houses, making it difficult to get their works on the shelves of bookstores and libraries. Readers, meanwhile, often have no idea where to start when navigating all the self-published content that exists on the web.
And this issue may be even worse now that e-books have changed the market.
JukePop, an analytics and distribution platform for independent authors, is hoping to chip away at the discoverability problem by partnering up with libraries. The startup piloted a program with the Santa Clara County library system, making 1,000 e-books available to the library for free. On Tuesday, it launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand its program to more libraries across the country.
“There’s some key reasons why libraries haven’t been able to jump on the e-books wagon,” JukePop cofounder Jerry Fan told Fast Company. “A large part of that is because it takes a lot of infrastructure to set up some sort of repository for e-books.”
Instead, JukePop is building out the infrastructure and hosting the books itself, requiring no resources on the libraries’ part. The startup has more than 1,000 authors on board who distribute serialized content one chapter at a time. Using its reader analytics, authors can see how readers respond to their plot lines. Currently, neither writers nor readers pay to use the platform, though authors can set up paywalls for their completed books.
Library patrons can read from the web or send the e-books to their reading apps or devices. If a reader downloads a book that is still being written, JukePop will send them the latest, most completed version, along with update notifications.
As part of the program, JukePop will provide libraries with a list of its most popular content, as determined by reader analytics and votes. The librarians use that short list as a jumping-off point to curate a collection for their readers. None of the stories will include copyright protections, which most of JukePop’s authors see as a hinderance to discovery, said Fan.
“Libraries are a great, tremendous resource,” he said. “Publishers know this, so they actually spend years building up relationships with libraries. Even though they don’t necessarily make a lot of money from libraries, the people who read at libraries will talk about [their books].”
JukePop hopes to meet a minimum fundraising goal of $15,000, which would go toward building a user interface and to scale the program to 60 libraries. With $25,000, the company said it could serve 200 libraries. A much-more ambitious goal of $150,000 would fund the development of a tool that lets authors publish to libraries, Amazon, iBooks, and other e-book sellers with the click of a button.