Startup Showcase: Lelivro
Like Byliner, Lelivro is an idea inspired by an author. On a visit to family in Israel 18 months ago, online entrepreneur Ilan Klein met with prize-winning Israeli poet Moshe Ben Harosh, who mentioned that readers were telling him they were unable to locate ebook versions of his books. Ben Harosh suggested the need for a global online ebook marketplace. Klein was skeptical, but after conducting some research, determined that the need did indeed exist, and set about building the solution.
"I was persuaded to take the challenge," he says, although it was "not simple to do." Difficulties have included the technical challenges of making it easy for authors to upload their books and start their own stores, creating an environment that's inviting for readers, as well as the complexities of issues related to payment and taxation.
Lelivro, Klein hopes, will make up for a situation where "a lot of publishers don't support ebooks as they could or as they should, and there are a bunch of authors who think they can do better, sell more copies, and make more money." Lelivro enables transactions directly between writer and reader. "It's a combination of you can make money as an author and [as a reader] you can connect strongly with the authors," Klein explains.
"In a way, we are all authors now," he says, referring to the many people who have a story or a book in them. Klein's idea is to make it easy for authors to reach, and develop an ongoing relationship with, their readers. In the beginning, he says, he thought his users were going to be mostly self-published authors, but now he thinks otherwise, and is seeing interest from authors who are already published, many of whom own rights to their ebooks.
Each author makes his or her own page, and can include personal and media information as well as social media feeds. The company also employs technology that allows the author to sign and personalize the book for a buyer, with a version coming that allows one to sign on a cellphone using a fingertip.
When asked what, as a newcomer to the industry, he thinks of publishing, Klein replied: "Shocking!" He's pleased to come into what he sees as an industry in turmoil but ripe for innovation, particularly in the area of ebooks. "The role of the publisher is changing right before our eyes," says Klein. He's optimistic about providing a service that can provide authors a role in building out the market for ebooks.
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