Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hyperink, a new e-publishing startup is revolutionizing the digital publishing space

If publishers thought the only threat on their business comes from Amazon and its plans to seriously get into publishing, they're wrong. The eBook space is a great place for innovators, creating new models and ventures that might become even a bigger threat for traditional publishers in the near future. Take Hyperink for example.

Hyperink, as The Next Web defined it, is looking to change these facts. Essentially the company is looking to speed up the publishing industry, providing nearly on-demand access to topic-driven books, focusing on the micro scale. So rather than a “How to Get Into College”, you’re likely to see “How to Get Into Stanford”.

On Hyperink's website you can find the following: "We started Hyperink for a simple reason: there is too much knowledge trapped in people's heads, inaccessible to the world. Our mission is to unlock and share that knowledge by working directly with domain experts to publish beautiful, high-quality eBooks."

This need identification was made by Kevin Gao who founded Hyperlink after he left McKinsey and wrote down his thoughts on how to get there in a 90-page tract he called The Consulting Bible and began selling the e-book at $25 apiece. Last year, he told Businessweek, the title made more than $100,000, and the book’s unexpected success got Gao thinking. “There are millions of people out there like me who have interesting knowledge about all these random topics,” he told Businessweek. “But to market a book online there are a thousand steps that I had to figure out through trial and error.”

His idea transformed eventually this publishing startup that is focusing on producing 30-50 page nonfiction e-books on selected niche topics, from how to get into Ivy league schools to getting consulting jobs in India. Hyperink raised already $1.2 million from venture capital firms, including Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, SVAngel and Lerer Ventures and has published 100 e-books since January. Gao, who serves now as the company's CEO, wants to publish 100 books per month, available for download on e-readers, tablets, mobile devices and computers.

The comparative advantage of Hyperink is specialization - you already have For Dummies and other guides covering almost every topic on earth, but they're usually general. Hyperlink is looking to provide for more specific and thus valuable guidance. Scott Weiss, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz who took part in the decision to invest in Hyperink gave Businessweek an example -instead of College Admission Essays For Dummies, Hyperink can produce 30-50-page volumes on the admissions process at hundreds of different schools, like "How to Get Into Amherst".

Hyperink also puts a lot of effort in identifying the right topics, the ones that will actually generate enough sales. The company, as businesweek reports, created software to predict in-demand topics. The algorithm takes in datasets, such as recent book sales figures and popular Internet searches, to determine what kinds of titles to produce.

And what about the authors? Hyperink explains on the website that "we’re ideal for experts who are entrepreneurial but don’t want to deal with the hassles of self-publishing. We’ll put you on a schedule and provide you with guidance to get the project completed." They hunt for what they call “domain experts” by advertising on Facebook, enlisting consultant-for-hire services such as Evisors, and simply calling around. There are no upfront payments to authors, but experts who write these books by themselves can get up to 50% of the royalties.

Hyperink's vision is to change the book publishing space - "book publishing needs to go through a lot of change - it should be faster, more personalized, and more democratic. We're going to make that happen," they write on their website. This is an ambitious goal, but Hyperink seems to be armed with the right tools to make it happen, or at least significantly contribute to such a change. In any event, publishers better pay attention to Hyperlink - this is the future of the publishing space and if they won't learn how to adjust to it, they will find themselves in trouble.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Plant trees for your books!