Future Think: Publerati
Publerati, founded in June 2012, publishes original literary fiction exclusively in ebook format. Founder Caleb Mason held several traditional publishing jobs in the 1980s at Little, Brown and start-up Salem House Publishers, then "crossed over into technology" and "caught the heyday of software publishing in the '90s." It was the arrival of the iPad that spurred Mason's decision to return to book publishing. "I saw my first iPad a few years ago and read a book on it, and thought, 'This is going to be amazing for books. I gotta figure out how to do something with this.'"
He learned many lessons from his years at Konica Minolta and DeLorme, lessons that are now informing his publishing decisions, as he experienced the era of digital disruption in the photography industry. "I understand what it's like to be within an industry and looking around wondering, 'What's going to happen?'" Mason comments on how this disruption can often come from unexpected sources: "It wasn't the digital camera that had the biggest impact on traditional photography — it was the [mobile] phone."
The company has seven books published and four more coming soon, including a new novel, Thanksgiving, from author Ellen Cooney, who has previously been published by Random House and other big trade houses.
Publerati is based not on a traditional book publisher's financial model but is instead structured like an agency: "I'm only taking 10 percent of proceeds." Mason keeps the book prices low ($2.99 for most), but "even with a $5 book they make the same amount of money they make with a traditional print contract." Then, like a literary agency, he will seek to sell other rights to other publishers, for example, for the print edition. In addition, Publerati donates a portion of its proceeds to literacy organization Worldreader, which provides free ereaders to children and teachers across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Mason sees himself as part of a new breed of "micro-publishers," and likes the freedom of being "on the outside." He is cautiously optimistic about the future. "I have a great feeling in my gut about what we are doing. … Nobody knows where any of this stuff is going, and that's what's so much fun about it: the chance to do things differently."
For more on Publerati, visit publerati.com
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