I was looking through my to-do pile earlier this week when I came across a mention of Leebre, a new community for writers and readers. It's still under development, but since I haven't seen any mention of it in ebook or digital publishing press since I read about it January on The Next Web, now seemed like a good time to pull it out and take a look.
When TNW described Leebre, they said that it was inspired by Jamendo. That might not mean much if you don't know that Jamendo is an online community where musicians can find an audience by sharing their music for free. So that would make it something like one of the numerous existing communities like Wattpad, Book Country, Feedbooks and more. What sets it apart?
Based on my observations (and my brief email exhange with Michael Bethencourt, the founder), Leebre is going to be something of a cross between Feedbooks and Wattpad. First, Leebre is going to be a place where writers can become authors. They'll have the opportunity to work on their craft in either private or public by getting feedback from other writers and readers.
This community is also different in that it emphasizes free and sharing; the publicly posted content will be shared under a creative commons license. But most importantly, the editing and creation process could be Leebre's greatest feature. The site is going to have some elements of crowd-sourced editing as well as a book generator which includes semantic content markup and even an automatic cover generator.
But that doesn't sound all that different from existing sites, so I asked Michael about it.
Question: What's going to set Leebre apart from its competition?
A: The philosophy of the project: We're not-for-profit project seeking to empower authors with easy typesetting tools, grow a CC library of new literature based on a culture of sharing and remixing, create quality FLOSS software that can be used by other similarly minded projects (such as Project Gutenberg), and improve literacy and education world-wide.
Considering that Feedbooks and Wattpad have both taken venture capital, that is a difference.
But I'm not sure it's enough. There are now any number of writing communities out there now (publishers seem to launch them about once every other month) so at best this one is joining a crowded space.What's more, given that this one is adverse to turning a profit, it doesn't seem likely that it will get the funding it needs to grow.
In any case, Leebre is now in beta and it could be worth a look.