The Guardian has the tale of yet another startup which is trying to break into the condensed books market:
Is this reading or “reading”? An app called Joosr, which aims to help users read a book in 20 minutes, has just been launched in the UK. Initially, this horrified me. I ranted that we had lost our ability to concentrate, that authors’ words are sacred. But then I looked at what the app was actually doing and realised it could be a good idea.
The app has more than 100 nonfiction books in a radically condensed format available on a subscription. Think self-help bestsellers like Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning and dense science texts like A Brief History of Time (sorry Dr Hawking, I did try). With the first type of book, readers can pick out useful tips without wading through pages of case studies; with the latter, a briefer version might be the only way to get information to stick.
Along with Citia and Blinkist, this is at least the third company to take the digital approach to condensed study guides. Citia has already bailed on the market (they pivoted in 2014) but the two-year-old Blinkist is still giving it a go.
And of course CliffsNotes and SparkNotes still publish condensed ebooks, but both of those companies have the dual advantage of retail distribution of their print books (and of course SparkNotes is owned by B&N, which is another huge advantage).
Is anyone else surprised that startups are still entering this market?
Condensed books like this fall into a category of non-fiction content can be easily found online for free. You would think that this type of content would suffer the same market pressure as encyclopedias, which are dying out thanks to Wikipedia and other freely available web content, but no.
Even though these types of study guides are only a Google search away, companies are still getting into this market. Is that optimism, poor advance research, or am I missing something about the market landscape?
image by bionicteaching