Kevin Gao

When writers first exchanged pen and paper for word processing systems we didn't realize how firmly it put us on the path toward self-production and self-publishing. The jury's still out on whether the creative process was altered for better or worse. Marshall McLuhan, an early media pundit, recognized back in 1962 how "the divorce of poetry and music was first reflected by the printed page."

In contrast, today's tools marry writing and publishing, bringing artists ever closer to the end product with click-of-a-button e-book creation capabilities built into the writing tools.

Bloggers, content farms and news publishers alike have long leveraged search trends to uncover the information people are looking for and profited accordingly. But can the same model be applied to book publishing? McKinsey alum Kevin Gao, whose startup Hyperink announced its first significant ($1.2 million) round of funding this week, believes so. (And so do his investors, apparently.)

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