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Book content seller turns a page in funding, ramps up marketing

25 January 2016

From Crain’s Detroit Business:

Ann Arbor-based ContentOro LLC, a company that specializes in selling content from books to websites that need content, has started raising a funding round of between $500,000 and $750,000 as it ramps up sales and marketing.

The startup was founded in 2014 by a former vice president at now-defunct Borders Group Inc. who had the quaint idea there was still money to be made in the book industry. ContentOro finished raising a seed round of $550,000 last August.

. . . .

The company has hired its first two employees: two interns — a Web developer and a sales person — from last summer whose pay had been funded by Eastern Michigan University and Spark.More important, ContentOro has landed its first customers — Livonia-based Pet Supplies Plus;Story Patches, a website based in Brooklyn for quilting enthusiasts; and Yoga Shelter, a West Bloomfield Township-based chain of yoga studios.

. . . .

Chunn’s last job at Borders was managing the digital division, overseeing the Ann Arbor company’s website, eBooks, readers, online marketing and social media.

Before that, he headed up the division that bought books that were no longer being marketed by publishers to sell at deep discounts, often on racks in the entryway into the stores.

. . . .

Chunn said he got the idea for ContentOro after he left Borders in 2011 to join Houston-based Retail Concepts as its chief marketing officer.

As Chunn told Crain’s for a profile last March: “We were paying a lot of money for content for our website, but people would land on our site and we’d give them garbage.

“We weren’t a source of real information.”

Link to the rest at Crain’s Detroit Business and thanks to Lee for the tip.

Lee wondered whether any of the gold ever reached the authors. PG wonders the same thing. I also wonders exactly what provision of the publishing contract permits a publisher to use the author’s work in this manner.

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Books in General

5 Comments to “Book content seller turns a page in funding, ramps up marketing”

  1. So Chunn’s last job was deep-discounting books that the publishers no longer bothered to market…and I have a good idea just how much the author’s share of that arrangement was. This bright new idea sounds like the digital equivalent…

    Instead of scraping content out of books, why not hire those authors to write great content which would be up-to-date and fine-tuned to the audience? Or just pay decent money to get good freelancers–if they’re ending up with garbage on their sites, it’s because they’re not paying enough.

    *Sigh.* I hope TPV will follow this, um, interesting development.

  2. exactly what provision of the publishing contract permits a publisher to use the author’s work in this manner.

    Would there be one? I thought this was standard operating procedure. Like with epigraphs in books; if you want to use a line from a song or a quote from a movie or book, you have to go to the label/publisher/studio to get the proper license to do so. Generally, even the artists themselves can’t straight up give permission for use (as I’ve understood it), because they no longer control the rights of the content.

    My guess has been that the artist would get some percentage of whatever fee the licensee had to pay, which would apply to the advance against royalties payment structure.

    • I’m assuming that the content play involves more than Fair Use, Will.

      In terms of this particular use, it depends upon the contract. In the absence of some provision that authorizes (and reasonably describes) this type of use, a standard reservation of rights clause would mean that the author, not the publisher, owns the rights this guy is buying.

  3. With a link to THEIR company, rather than to the book or the author, right?

    Poor authors. One more level of ‘middlemen’ to ‘share’ in the profits.

  4. So, basically, they’re stealing content for their own profit? That’s what it sounds like. I haven’t read the full article, so maybe that isn’t how it works.

    See, this is why I like having my own copyrights and control over my work. No way would someone get to do this without paying me a substantial fee.

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