Founded in 2012 by Adam Kolczynski, London-based tech startup iAuthor is an online book community that connects authors and publishers to readers using crowd sourced themes and book samples.
Since its launch in 2013, iAuthor has amassed 3.7 million page-views, 2.4 million engaged minutes; a combined social media reach of 126,200, and users from 144 countries across 5 continents.
In September 2016, they launched LitSampler 2.0, their proprietary book sampler and signature feature.
What is LitSampler 2.0?
Kolczynski said, “Readers can try before they buy, decreasing their inbuilt risk aversion to a new book by an unknown author.”
What problem does LitSampler 2.0 solve?
An overabundance of books. More books competing for fewer reader eyeballs (as per Gabriel Zaid’s prophetic 2003 observation: “The reading of books is growing arithmetically; the writing of books is growing exponentially“). Readers feel swamped by digital noise, creating a discoverability problem. This is exacerbated by:
1) A scarcity of attention: mobile and tablet readers are more time-squeezed than ever, so unknown authors have less time to capture and maintain reader interest.
2) Poor user-experience: annoying file downloads, restrictive DRM and awkward page navigation deters many readers from sampling books online. Without the impulse purchase, millions of books are left undiscovered. Reader, author and publisher suffer.
How is LitSampler 2.0 unique?
LitSampler 2.0 brings the point of book discovery nearer the point of purchase. It gives authors an ultra-intuitive typographical tool to showcase their books and an immersive e-reader for the readers. The sample tool is responsive and enables sampling on all screen sizes and is formattable, giving authors and publishers the power to lay out their books as they wish, complete with indents, drop-caps, section breaks, images, tables and more.
“From a UX/UI perspective, we felt that many existing book samplers were decidedly awkward. An over-reliance on skeuomorphic elements rooted the design in the pre-iPad era, page navigation was unintuitive, and reader-centric features such as in-line search, bookmarking and contrast control weren’t optimised for mobile,” Kolczynski said.
“At iAuthor, we believe that design should be invisible to the user. Book excerpts should take centre-stage, not toolbars, bloated menus or banner adverts. Ideally: all signal, no noise. By minimising visual clutter, LitSampler 2.0 not only increases reader dwell-time, but enhances the quality of that engagement.”
Readers can harness their global network to maximise author discoverability through the shareability and embed book samples in different sites and blogs. The sampling process also doesn’t require downloading software or files. As of October 2016, users have created 3000+ book samples on iAuthor (from a total of 12,702 uploaded books), spent 2.4 million engaged minutes on the platform, and amassed 3.7 million page-views. The average visit duration is 7 minutes 30 seconds.
“It is stats such as these that indicate a user-base with genuine discovery intent, not just gratuitous self-promotion,” Kolczynski said.
iAuthor aims to give the publishing world something unique: a hub for serendipitous discovery. iAuthor’s mission is to make books not only “searchable” but “discoverable”.
Kolczynski said, “Amazon-style metadata will make a book searchable in seconds … if the buyer already knew of its existence. But what if they didn’t? What if the buyer chanced upon the book? That’s where iAuthor’s “serendipitous discovery” comes in.”
With the post-LitSampler 2.0 surge in traction, iAuthor aims to raise a VC-led Series A funding round in the new year. Investment will allow them to scale their active user-base to 500,000+, and put the expanded development team under one roof.
“Above all, the investor-startup “fit” needs to be a perfect one, aligned fully with our community’s interests. One cannot allow growth to dilute vision,” Kolczynski said.
“Scalability is also about maintaining the startup culture ― creative autonomy, the maverick edge, agility ― through all phases of growth. Creative autonomy is particularly precious, and could well be described as a Cinderella asset: you don’t know it’s there until it’s lost.”