Over the three days of Digital Book World this week, 12 startup companies were given a chance to strut their stuff in a series of sessions called Publishers Launchpad, which had new companies pitch their business ventures in short presentations back-to-back. The first session was part of Monday’s Publishers Launch Children’s Publishing Goes Digital conference, and the second two were integrated into Digital Book World, which is a joint effort of F+W and Publishers Launch.
The DBW sessions featured companies that are both outgrowths of other companies, like ACX, which is a division of Audible (itself a division of Amazon) that allows publishers to source talent – and then remotely produce – audiobooks, and those like Small Demons, a startup still in beta, which offers in-the-book wikipedic resources to enhance the user’s experience. Other companies, like Cookstr, have had success in the marketplace as a database of cookbook recipes, but are now expanding into new categories like sports, gardening, and other verticals. Vook, which started out as a company devoted to creating ebooks with embedded video, and now offers a cloud-based epublishing platform. BookRiff, one of the cleverer startups, allows readers to build their own libraries, but offers publishers a turnkey system that ensures metadata, permissions and payment will accompany any books, chapter or chunking of content.
At the Children’s Publishers Go Digital Launchpad, some of the presenters were well known in the industry, like Oceanhouse Media’s Michel Kripalani and some were better known by their celebrity authors, like Vancouver-based Loud Crow, which does Sandra Boynton’s well regarded ebooks. Others, like Storybird’s Mark Ury, help young writers and, increasingly, their teachers, to create and share their stories and art. Genera Interactive, a company with offices in Spain, Brazil, London and New York, has several arms to it, including a robust interactive bookstore for kids, Playtales (formerly TouchyBooks).
What all the companies had in common was a willingness to evolve with the market, while maintaining their commitment to the creator, and end user, otherwise known as The Reader. The complete list of Publishers Launchpad participants includes, in alphabetical order: ACX, The Atavist, BookRiff, Cookstr, Ganxy, Genera Interactive, Loud Crow, Oceanhouse Media, Semi-Linear, Small Demons, Storybird, Subtext, Vook, and Zuuka.