Los Angeles-based Livrada, the startup that lets users redeem a specific ebook title from a gift card, announced today that it has closed a $1 million seed funding round led by ICG Ventures, the investment arm of book distributor Ingram Content Group, and other angel and private investors. In addition to its ebook-specific gift cards, currently sold at Target and redeemable on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, the company also announced the launch of a new product platform it calls e-Book Cards for authors, which lets authors hand out or sell gift cards for their books at book signings, launches, and while meeting with publishers and publicists.
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“When we first launched…we thought that there’s a strong culture around gift-giving in books that had been lost in ebooks,” said co-founder and CEO Leonard Chen in an interview. “But, we found that authors started reaching out to us…in the world of ebooks, when they go around and have events…giving books to promoters, publishers, agents and the like, there’s no efficient way to do that with ebooks.”
The startup will now work with primarily self-published authors to create cards which they can distribute and sell at their events, similar to authors with a table of physical books to sell at a reading, which readers can redeem on the platform of their choice.
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Though Chen did not disclose the specifics of the company’s business model, he said the company charges publishers a marketing fee and makes affiliate revenue from the books it helps sell, in addition to a service fee it will now be charging for its new author platform.
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There are other companies like Canadian startup Enthrill in the title-specific ebook gift card market, and retail-specific gift cards from Amazon or Apple’s iBookstore that pose a threat to Livrada. However, the company’s focus on making the redemption process as seamless as possible, emphasis on title-specific over generic gift cards and now product extensions into the realm of authors and corporations are what it believes will allow it to thrive in the long run.
“Starting out with one product, we found that we’re solving other problems in the whole ecosystem of authors, publishers and ebooks, and we’re the only ones that can fulfill directly through multiple platforms,” Chen added. “My background is in the music industry so I have empathy for content owners and content creators and we’re hopeful what we’re building will bring a lot of value to everyone, starting with the authors.”
Link to the rest at BetaKit and thanks to L for the tip.