Months after rumors that short-form ebook publisher Byliner was going out of business, the company has found a buyer in ebook publishing start-up Vook.
Byliner has been among the more innovative book publishing start-ups, launching its own subscription ebook service, partnering with marquee brands on joint projects, launching a serials imprint, and winning accolades doing so. The company also inspired imitators.
The company was much celebrated in the book media as part of a new future for the industry, one freed from the traditional limitations of publishing by technology.
Perhaps Byliner still represents that future, but no longer as its own company. Vook, like Byliner, has been part of the discussion around publishing’s future ever since it was founded on the idea of enhanced ebooks with video. Several pivots later, and the publisher, author services and ebook technology firm is one of the few survivors among the first wave of ebook start-ups.
“Vook has made a virtue of staying nimble and aggressive,” Vook co-founder and head of business development Matt Cavnar told Digital Book World. “We built technology that made it easy for us to scale and build a sustainable business. We never got attached to unsustainable business models that didn’t make sense. Finally, we work harder than anyone else. We are always going and never give up.”
Vook also acquried Booklr, a book analytics start-up, earlier this year and, added Cavnar, the company may be in the market for more. Terms of this deal were not disclosed.
“We’re always interested in exploring opportunities that will fit with our vision,” he said.
According to a note Vook published on its site to its authors, the company will be discontinuing Byliner’s subscription program.
Vook acquires leading ebook publisher Byliner to establish its first in-house digital imprint
Vook, Inc. is pleased to announce it is acquiring Byliner, the pre-eminent boutique publisher of the world’s best short fiction and non-fiction. Vook’s proprietary publishing and data-driven marketing platform powers the publishing programs of the world’s leading media companies and brands including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, and Thought Catalog. Byliner is joining Vook as its first in-house imprint, launching the next step in its plan to expand its platform to a growing universe of authors and independent content creators.
“We are excited to welcome Byliner’s authors to Vook,” said Vook CEO Josh Brody. “Acquiring Byliner is our first step towards applying everything we’ve learned from powering large brands’ digital publishing programs to create a new publishing model that empowers authors to publish faster, market smarter, and keep more creative and financial control of their work.”
Until now, Vook has used its enterprise-level technology and data to create, distribute, and promote over 5,000 ebooks in partnership with leading brands, publishers, and media companies. With the acquisition of Byliner, Vook will support the existing titles and acquire new projects for release under the Byliner imprint. “We have always been huge fans of Byliner’s writers and books. We’re looking forward to working with Byliner writers to publish more titles, and to adding new writers to the imprint,” said Vook Co-Founder and Publisher Matthew Cavnar.
Byliner writers will be among the first authors to get direct access to Vook’s publishing technology, including insight into Vook’s proprietary data, a daily sales and marketing dashboard, distribution to more retail channels, and high quality production and support for new projects.
“Byliner built a quality brand and content business that set a new standard for digital publishing. As a recognized leader and innovator in the ebook marketplace, Vook’s team and technology is a perfect fit for Byliner authors,” said Deanna Brown, President of Byliner.
Vook, based in New York City, is funded by Tribeca Venture Partners, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Baseline Ventures, Felicis Venture Partners, Floodgate, Founder Collective, Lerer Ventures, and SV Angel. Byliner’s investors include Avalon Ventures, Freestyle Capital, SoftTechVC, Bullpen Capital, Random House Inc., ICG Ventures, and Crunchfund.
[Vook Letter to Authors]
Byliner Authors, Welcome to Vook
On Wednesday, September 10, 2014, Byliner became Vook’s first digital imprint. Below is the email from our CEO to Byliner’s authors and partners welcoming them to Vook.
Dear Byliner Authors & Partners,
Today we are announcing that Vook has acquired Byliner. We wanted to share the good news with you first before issuing a press release. As the CEO of Vook, I also wanted to explain what the acquisition means for the future of Byliner and Vook.
Vook was founded in 2009 on the cusp of a digital revolution in book publishing. Since then, ebooks have become a significant and permanent fixture of the marketplace. All digital revolutions are characterized by the speed and rapacity by which they upend analog models, and ebooks are no exception. As this happens, traditional structures get reorganized – in this case the structure between author, publisher, and reader – and opportunities emerge for new business models, services, and most importantly, creative endeavors.
Vook’s publishing platform powers the world’s leading media companies and brands including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, and Thought Catalog. We create and distribute beautiful ebooks to Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google, Kobo, and Blio across 192 territories worldwide. Tracking 4 million+ books and billions of data points in the marketplace, our analytics power the marketing of the world’s largest publishers and media companies. We use this data to make informed decisions that drive real results for our publishing partners – pricing their books, getting them into Amazon’s Top 100 Lists, and getting them to show up in more search results.
Acquiring Byliner is our first step towards taking everything we’ve learned from powering large brands’ publishing programs, and using it to directly empower authors to publish faster, market smarter, and keep more creative and financial control of their work.
Byliner has established a boutique literary brand that stands out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. As Vook’s first in-house imprint, Byliner will continue to acquire and publish short-fiction and non-fiction by award-winning authors. Byliner authors will soon get access to Vook’s new set of tools and services, expanding distribution and marketing opportunities for their titles.
As our first step towards giving authors what we believe they deserve from their publisher, we will be increasing your royalty rates across the board to 85% of net revenues. In the coming days, our team will be reaching out to you to answer any questions – and make sure you’re set up to receive your royalties without any delay.
In the spirit of ultimate transparency, something we believe is still lacking in the book industry, we’ve included a question and answer section below.
Welcome to Vook.
Chief Executive Officer
Questions & Answers
Will Vook pursue Byliner’s subscription program?
No. Vook is focused on publishing and promoting books to successful online retailers and maximizing the value of sales through those channels.
What are Vook’s royalty rates?
At Vook, you keep 85% of your net royalties. There are no out of pocket costs and no hidden fees.
Will my books remain on sale in the ebook marketplaces?
Yes. Your books are currently up for sale and will continue to be for sale without interruption.
Does Vook want to publish new titles I may have?
Yes! Vook is very interested in continuing to publish new work from Byliner authors, either under the Byliner imprint, or under your own name. If you have any immediate ideas, please contact our Publisher, Matthew Cavnar, at Matthew@vook.com.
What about my backlist content that I have licensed to Byliner?
Vook will be talking with authors and agents in the coming weeks about ways we can maximize the value of your work. If you’re curious to talk to us right away, you can reach out to Matthew at Matthew@vook.com.
Is there any way for me to track the sales and performance of my book with Vook?
Yes! We’re currently customizing our enterprise tracking tools for Byliner authors. Vook will be contacting you with more information soon.
Who do I contact at Vook if I notice something about my book in the ebook retailers?
Contact Vook’s distribution team at email@example.com. Please include ‘Byliner author’ in your subject line.
Who do I contact at Vook if I have a question about my royalty statements?
Contact Vook’s accounting department at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include ‘Byliner author’ in your subject line.
What is Vook and where are you?
Vook is venture-backed digital publishing company based near Madison Square Park in New York City.