Digital content is infusing itself more and more in everyday life and as the value of eBooks rises there is an increasing demand for channels and/or brands that provide online reading services and—ideally—also consistently communicate with their audience. BookShout is just such a company.
BookShout is an app that partners with brands to expand the potential of books on the market via varied sales channels. Recently, General Mills teamed up with BookShout to distribute eight million eBooks through Cheerios cereal boxes. Essentially, anyone who downloaded the BookShout app and scanned a barcode on Cheerio’s boxes had access to one of eight individual children’s eBooks. Additionally the annual music, film and interactive media conference SXSW recently selected BookShout as their first-ever eBook partner. Event attendees had the ability to download the BookShout app and purchase and/or download content at the festival from speakers, authors and more.
BookShout has worked with LionsGate to promote ticket sales of a movie based on author Zane’s book “Addicted” by partnering with Movie-Tickets and Fandango. The popular television program “How I Met Your Mother” also gave away an eBook via the BookShout app. BookShout’s CEO is Jason Illian, who also happened to have been featured on “Bachelorette.” Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Jason about his experiences working with BookShout:
Q: When did you first get inspired to start BookShout?
The original idea for BookShout first started in late 2008/early 2009 when I was reading on the early Kindle device. I believed there was so much more we could do (and would do) with digital content and eBooks. But the original idea was for a social reading platform, and frankly, we couldn’t make it work. BookShout as a social reading app was only moderately successful, but we learned some very valuable lessons and these lessons allowed us to become the B2B eBook and digital distribution platform we are today. In essence, we learned that all types of companies, retailers, and online stores want and need to sell eBooks and other content but because of the high hurdle to entry—work on all devices, DRM, access to content from all the publishers, unique reporting standards—and high costs, there was a problem. So we quickly iterated to serve these clients. Since then we’ve become the first eBook platform to power eBook sales at SXSW and the first company to allow General Mills to put 8.4M eBooks on Cheerios’ boxes. And there is much more to come.
Q: How, exactly, does BookShout work?
We are a B2B digital content and eBook platform that provides both the content and the technology to sell/fulfill eBooks. Partners often approach us in one of two ways: (1) A large corporation or organization will want to buy/distribute thousands of eBooks at one time under their brand and with data capture (what we call a bulk or special sale) or (2) A partner will want to sell eBooks from their site or store, and they need our content catalogue and technology to do so. BookShout can power the entire experience for our partners, saving them millions of dollars of development and years of time. They can leverage our API and even white-label apps as needed.
Q: What genres does BookShout handle?
We work in all genres, and we work with both eBooks and other digital content. Until recently, the concept of an “eBook” was narrowly defined as a romance, business, or other trade book that you could buy in a retail store. But since we serve brands and organizations, an “eBook” can be expanded to include instruction manuals, corporate documents, brand stories, and much, much more. If it is readable, we can probably handle it and help a partner sell and deliver it. One partnership that highlights the depth of our services is with August smart locks. When a person wants to buy an August smart lock in an Apple or Best Buy store, they can simply scan the barcode with the BookShout app and the digital instructions for installation are instantly downloaded and stored. This helps the user understand the process and it helps August stay connected to its client—a win on all sides.
Q: Aside from books, does BookShout offer any other services?
Our partners work with us because of our innovative technology and our large catalogue of content. Most partners not only need access to a varied library of content (which they can access through our API), but they also need the technology to power, fulfill, sell, and report on the transactions. This often extends to our white-labeled apps, gift cards, text-to-buy campaigns, social media tools and more.
Q: So far, what has been the most rewarding part of working with BookShout?
The most rewarding part has been helping a traditional, slow-moving industry become more modern. The book industry hasn’t changed much in 100 years, and we have the opportunity to help usher in a new era of digital-first. In the past, a book was traditionally purchased from a retail store. But in the near future, you’ll get an eBook on how to train when you buy new running shoes, an eBook from your insurance agency when you are pregnant, and an eBook manual on servicing your car when you purchase the vehicle. These new digital channels will serve the end user well and help the content owner stay connected and build a community around their content. BookShout literally gets the opportunity to create an entirely new market, which is exciting.
Q: Where do you hope BookShout will be in ten years?
In ten years, I hope most major corporations and retailers are partnering with BookShout to help sell and fulfill their digital content. We have the ability to help partners all over the world deliver eBooks in creative new ways.
Q: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
We have a number of upcoming projects that we’ll talk about soon. It’s an exciting time to be in the digital world!
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