While some might say that Amazon has a monopoly on the ebook market, not everyone would agree.
Take The Reading Room, for example.
This 4 year old book community and indie ebookstore raised a new round of financing in early November. Between new and existing investors, the startup now has $2.75 million in capital. They plan to use the funds to o drive membership, sign new commercial partnerships, and implement a range of site enhancements including curated content, recommendations and featured selections.
“The funds raised today will enable us to meet the growing demand for The Reading Room to be the online platform of choice for readers to discover new authors, classics and those hidden gems, and importantly to connect with other, like-minded readers,” said Kim Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, The Reading Room. “The Reading Room can now accelerate its expansion across the United States and North America.”
The Reading Room now boasts 650,000 members, all of whom enjoy sharing reading recommendations to help fellow readers to discover new books. In addition to the community, The Reading Room also sells ebooks and, as of 1 June, paper books. 75% of current members hale from NA, which has lead The Reading Room to set up new offices in NYC.
This might not seem like a very successful company, but I take a different lesson from it.
This is the one of the ebookstores that made me rethink any number of common assumptions about the ebook market. For example, many people say that Amazon prices ebooks so low that indies cannot compete. But clearly that’s not true otherwise The Reading Room would not have a thriving ebookstore or have picked up millions of dollars in capital investment.
I’ve also come to realize that the idea that low prices are the beginning and end of market success is simply not true; of course I’m not the only one who has figured that out (see indie bookstores).
TBH, it’s that whole “millions in investment” that makes me wonder just how impenetrable Amazon’s dominance really is. Clearly someone is willing to bet big that startups like Oyster, Zola Books, or Bilbary will grow into serious competitors.
Do you suppose they’re hoping for the next major ebookstore or for the small fry to grow large enough that they are gobbled up by Amazon?