As another sector that is ripe for disruption, publishing has long been dominated by the big houses and now the power of Amazon.
Ether Books, a member of Tech Innovators 2014, is taking a social approach and publishes made-for-mobile content direct to devices and is starting to attract the attention of big publishers.
Based in: Bath
Founded in: 2010
No. of employees: 3
Company founder: Maureen Scott
Maureen Scott’s career has been dominated by mobile. She ran one of the world’s first mobile application developer programmes for Openwave, a Silicon Valley company whose technology enabled the mobile internet. Ether Books combines her deep mobile and consumer app expertise with her love of reading.
Background business profile:
Ether Books has built a global marketplace connecting writers and readers on their smartphone and tablet devices. Ether takes the reading and publishing experience mobile and social by enabling content publishing, content monetisation and communications between all Ether users.
Realising that the last consumer content type to go mobile was reading for leisure, Maureen Scott decided to capitalise on this and so created Ether Books.
‘It had all been about games, music and video – but reading for leisure had not taken off. The scale of the market is huge, you can reach over a billion users,’ she explains.
‘Technology has changed so that the cost of developing infrastructure and running it, because of cloud, has dropped significantly. Then drop social media on top of that and you don’t have to spend as much on marketing, it’s just about getting your product right so people share it.’
The social element of Ether Books is a big component of its offering, with Scott comparing the platform to a ‘mini Facebook’ for those who love to read and write. The business model favours individual writers and publishers, giving them a leg up in a market dominated by the big players.
Growth for the business is being fuelled by constantly bringing onboard new writers and users, a kind of scaling that will require investment. With £250,000 being raised to grow its baseline technology platform, further capital is being sought to finish off the platform and move out of a beta stage.
Working with publishers to inform on why the Ether Books offering is important has been one of the hurdles to date, Scott says. ‘We give a better commercial model to publishers as we are a big data company and have data on all our users.
‘We are more than happy to share that with publishers, unlike Amazon. They are not a social company, you don’t go on there to have fund and engage with other readers and writers.’
- Paid trial with Wiley – prototype app delivered to Wiley (Wiley intend to license Ether’s platform)
- Third Party APIs released enabling Ether to scale through third party developers – Intohand is first customer
- Ether’s v2.0 platform released including iOS and Android apps, royalty payment solution, writer eQuip self-service dashboard and messaging platform enabling direct messaging and broadcast group messaging
- Commercial agreement confirmation from Hachette and Penguin Random House Group to provide eBook content when funding secured (on-going discussions with other large publishers)
- Close Hachatte and PRH commercials
- Market seed programme to recruit 1,000+ readers to kick-start marketplace
- Development effort to create self-service ‘group’ functionality on platform to dramatically scale the number of platform users
- Hire Midas PR to execute consumer and publishing trade PR go to market plan
Ether’s recent technical milestone was delivery of version 2.0 of its platform including native iOS and Android apps and messaging. Ether’s end-to-end cloud platform solution has been architected to scale rapidly and globally.
- Native iOS and Android apps with Facebook Open Graph integration (Ether believes it is the only publishing company with this Facebook discoverable catalogue)
- Messaging platform with 3rd party APIs
- eQuip Writer self-service interface/dashboard enabling any writer to have their own app storefront on Ether’s platform
- Back-end infrastructure (database, royalty payments, Content publishing) built and released
- Several independent writing groups
- Mark Gretton, EVP of engineering at TomTom
- Fabio Torlini, former CMO of Rackspace EMEA
1 kildare court, kildare terrace, London, W2 5JU
Tel: 07740 735790