4 Book Startups to Watch Out for in 2016

In a forum called “Launchpad: New Players, New Platforms, and New Propositions for the Publishing Industry” at Digital Book World 2016, four startup founders shared how their companies are changing how readers interact with content.

Included in the discussion were Katie Palenscar of Unbound Concepts, Peter Kay of NCVRS, Chang Kim of Tapas, and Chris Sim of Kadaxis. Here’s a breakdown of what their companies create and why you should keep them on your radar.

1. Tapas Media, Inc.

“In 1996, people actually read in subways,” Chang explained. “In 2016, everyone’s head is buried in their phone. We thought about this problem and asked, ‘How can we fix it? How do we put awesome stories on people’s mobile phones?’”

After studying the mobile gaming industry, Chang decided to create an app that delivers free book titles in bite-sized chapters and functions like a game. To unlock chapters, readers have to earn coins. Pointing out that reading levels have decreased, Chang hopes his app inspires people to have fun with reading.

2. NCVRS (pronounced “uncovers”)

“NCVRS is Tinder for books,” Kay said. “It shows you book covers, and you choose whether you like them or not.” He continued: “It’s as if a good book starts moving towards you, and bad books start moving away from you. Everything is guided by algorithms and social networks.”

This app doesn’t use a user’s personal data, but rather analyzes the titles they click on to make recommendations.

“We’re always evaluating our books constantly,” said Kay. “Two thirds of the books we show in the app get rejected. That’s probably not unlike a regular bookstore.”

3. Unbound Concepts

Unbound Concepts is behind the Artifact platform, a program that allows teachers to identify the right books for students. Publishers can access information on readers that will inform marketing, product development, and distribution strategies.

“We started this project because editors are consistently asking questions about getting specific types of books,” said Palenscar. “We use data from publishers and have our own text analysis tool.”

4. Kadaxis

Chris Sim started Kadaxis out of a desire to use data science to improve the relationship between readers and books. It started off as a research and development experiment and led to the creation of consumer sites that allowed Sim to test out business models. He and his team developed AuthorCheckpoint.com, which gave authors tools to market their books, and BookDiscovery.co, which used insight to make book recommendations.

Sim’s company generates revenue by offering metadata optimization, search monitoring, and using application program interfaces to power their insights.

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