Young Adult Book Discovery Start-up Evoke Wins First Publishing Hackathon

Young adult book discovery start-up has won the first publishing hackathon, a software development contest held over 32 hours on May 18 and 19 at the AlleyNYC, a shared office space that attracts many technology start-ups.

Digital innovation is bringing new capabilities to the publishing industry—capabilities like interactivity, Web access and search.

“This hackathon is creating a large conversation between publishing and technology,” said Agustina Casal, a spokesperson for Perseus, one of the company’s that put on the event.

More than 200 digital book entrepreneurs competed in the hackathon and the winner was announced today at Book Expo America after a final round in which each company was given six minutes to pitch its idea to a panel of technology experts.

The Publishing Hackathon attracted 200 people on over 30 teams. Six made it to the final round. Evoke, the winner, received $10,000 and a breakfast with Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of talent agency William Morris Endeavor.

The finalists were:

• BookCity (Vincent Trivett, Charlie Gaines, Nathan Gao) – a way to find books set in your travel destination

• Captiv (Christina Zou, Lucas Lemanowicz, Russell Huang, Dmitry Pyatin, Wei Yin, Kane Hsieh) an approach to mining events both global and personal to make better book recommendations

• Coverlist (Dani Frankhauser and Chris Ciabarro) – a solution focused on the joy of browsing jackets

• Evoke (Lisa Maione, Jason Pearson, Jill Axline) – a way to discover young adult literature through characters

• KooBrowser (Sage Wohns, Ahmed El Kholy, Marmina Abdelmalek, Tarek ElElaimy, Mohamed Altantawy) – an approach to making better book recommendations based on browsing history

•LibraryAtlas (Michael del Castillo, Monica Katz, David Lau, Andrew Leung, Peter Rood, Aaron Siewert, Gabriel Troia) – a book discovery solution based on geolocation

In the finals, overseen by Perseus chief marketing officer Rick Joyce, each of the six teams pitched a panel of judges representing a cross-section of publishing, technology and venture capital industries, and include:

• David Steinberger, CEO of the Perseus Books Group and chairman of the National Book Foundation

•Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, literary agent and board member of William Morris Endeavor

• Doug Rushkoff, digital guru, author, and a driver behind CodeAcademy

• Stephen Evans, director, SilverLake Capital

• Randi Zuckerberg, author and digital marketing executive

• Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and founder/publisher at Breadpig

A group of major media industry participants organized the Publishing Hackathon, including The Perseus Books Group, Librify, BookExpo America, AlleyNYC, and William Morris Endeavor.

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