“Instagram of Books” Helps Readers Find What Their Friends & Idols Are Reading
Mike Eidlin, co-founder of social book discovery platform bookmarq, believes the one thing keeping casual readers from becoming avid readers is discoverability. "We all used to be casual readers until we found that one book that really shook our worlds and got us to read more," he says. Through the bookmarq app, Eidlin and his team are helping readers find those earth-shattering books by facilitating book recommendations from users' friends, celebrities, and top authors. Eidlin describes his startup as the Instagram of the book world. "You connect with your friends through photos and music on Instagram or Spotify, but where's the app for books?" Here Eidlin shares how bookmarq plans to convert the non-readers of the world and become the leading solution for finding their next life-changing read.
What problem are you solving?
Our mission is to help casual readers discover the magic of books. We've identified the problem that people aren't bookworms because discovering a good book is incredibly difficult. While an algorithm or ad may recommend a book to someone, a recommendation coming from that person's friend or a trustworthy source is much more powerful.
On a platform like ours, recommendations can take many forms. Whether it's a lifestyle brand sharing book suggestions with fans -- "BMW presents their favorite automotive, design, engineering books" -- or a professional basketball player posting a review -- "This book helped my mental game to make me a better basketball player" -- or even readers discovering what books their favorite authors read, our platform uncovers a lot of new and valuable content surrounding books, which was just not convenient for people to generate previously.
How did you come up with this idea?
I came up with this idea after The Lean Startup shook my world. I soon realized I was learning more from the non-required books I was reading than the 300-person lectures at my University. Books are powerful, and I want to share the experience of discovering that fact with others. I knew that if I wanted to become the next Elon Musk or Richard Branson, I'd need to read the same books they read. I realized that there wasn't a product that would fulfill this goal for me, so I set forth to create my own.
As a company, we put a huge emphasis on the user experience. Simplicity is key here, and I believe that this mindset resonates with the most successful products that have emerged in the past few years. It's all about being hyper focused on the end-user, and our community. In the end, we're a platform business just like AirBnb and Lyft. Our biggest asset is the strength and quality of our community. We just do our best to harvest and facilitate the best experience for our users.
Who is your competition?
At the moment Goodreads is our main competitor, as they engage in social book discovery. Our difference comes from the fact that we are 100% focused on solving social book discovery, while Goodreads puts a heavy emphasis on their suggestion engine. We believe that the person recommending you the book in some respects is more important than the book being recommended itself.
We actually just graduated from an accelerator prep program and received an investment by 500 Startups, a prominent seed fund in San Francisco. Our current focus is less so on massive growth, but instead to reach product market fit by creating a product that readers love. In terms of opportunities for growth, we're really interested in the fact that 80% of books are consumed by 20% of readers in the US. While everyone is currently focused on targeting super-readers, we'd like to inspire the people who read less than 5 books a year, to read more. We did create a very interesting side project called streaq at the CODEX Hackathon, which we are excited to release in the next few days. The purpose of streaq is to promote stronger reading habits by prompting people to read one chapter a day. To stay updated on our progress there, check us out at www.streaq.io