An Israeli start-up wants to stop people from buying books before they read them
TotalBooX, an ambitious start-up from Tel Aviv, is attempting to disrupt the eBook market by offering audiences access to a wide range of books – but only charging customers for the pages they actually read.
The founder, serial entrepreneur Yoarv Lorch, says that “the old book business model is counter-productive,” and wants to create a new type of platform for eBook distribution and consumption to rival Amazon and Barns & Noble.
Have you ever bought a book on the spur of the moment, only to discover after a few pages that it was absolutely terrible? Lorch says this experience is universal across both print and digital, and hopes TotalBooX will liberate eBooks from the flaws of older models, and enable a different culture of reading. It is is scheduled to go live this month.
“The book is going through a major evolution,” says Lorch. “The business model of ‘pay first, read later’ has its roots in the fact that books have production, distribution and warehousing costs. None of this exists in the digital book world.” Instead, he suggests that people should be able to pay for books on a per-page basis. You read a third of the latest best-seller, move to something else, and pay only a third of the cost.
With TotalBooX, the overall price of the book doesn’t change. But the users have a chance to save some money if they are not satisfied with the product. The platform already contains 10,000 eBooks, and will be available on iOS and online. First-timers are greeted with $2 worth of free pages, but from then on, the balance of the account needs to be topped up in advance.
“We are trying to rid the world from outdated, expensive ritual of buying a book before you read it,” says Lorch. On TotalBooX, sharing an interesting eBook is as easy as drag-and-dropping it into a friend’s account, and there’s no need to enter any login details or payment information. Add social media integration, the platform hopes to appeal to real book lovers.
Besides selling eBooks, TotalBooX also deals in analytics. It is in a unique position to extract data on reading patterns, and establish popularity charts based on actual pages turned, not just the number of copies sold.
The Android version of the TotalBooX app is currently in closed beta (it can be downloaded for free on Android tablets), but it should be out before the end of the month. After that, the company will start promoting its platform in earnest, and it has already scheduled meetings with several UK publishers.
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