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Indie eBookstore Zola Books Raises $5.1 Million in Funding

The much hypedzola-books-logo ebook startup Zola Books has just completed a seed funding round on Monday.

They have raised an additional $3.9 million in investments from new and existing investors, including Audrey Niffenegger, Chandler Burr, and others. The new investors include the Radcliff Group, Bob Kohn, founder of eMusic; Jeff Pulver; David Placek, founder of Lexicon Branding; director Paul Saltzman (Prom Night in Mississippi); and Peter Sundman.

Zola Books pitches itself as an indie with a mission to "offer digital readers a better experience by integrating the community that produces and helps people find great books", but all visual signs suggest that this ebookstore has focused their business model on offering titles not available elsewhere. Their exclusive content, which includes titles like Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, is sold DRM free in either Kindle or Epub formats.

Speaking of exclusives, Zola Books will be expanding their exclusive catalog this week with the official release of 6 works by Joan Didion. The first work, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, is an essay collection by Ms. Didion that was originally published in 1968. In the next few weeks it will be joined by 5 other ebooks by Didion, including After Henry, Miami, Play It As It Lays, and The White Album.

Zola Books has also signed a deal with Ms Didion to carry several titles by her late husband John Gregory Dunne. Those works, which include Crooning, Dutch Shea, Jr., Harp, Quintana & Friends, and The Red White and Blue, will be available as ebooks for the first time on 12 November.

This startup launched with much fanfare in June of last year, and at that time they said that they planned to have 1% of the US book market by the end of this year along with 350 bookseller partners. Neither of which has happened.

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