After an investor consolidation, The Reading Room, a book recommendation, discovery and e-commerce platform founded in 2010, has been rebranded under the name Bookstr. The company has relaunched its website and plans to release a Bookstr app later this month.
According to Bookstr director of sales Pat Noonan, the company was reorganized after its main investor bought out the others. Former Reading Room CEO Kim Anderson has left the company and returned to Australia.
Noonan said the company’s name was changed to avoid confusion with a U.K. firm called the Reading Room. The change, he said, allows the company to differentiate itself from competitors. Noonan added that the name is also an attempt to attract younger customers; "we want to attract millennials,” Noonan said.
Bookstr has about 1.2 million registered members, according to Noonan, and 60% of them are classified as millennials (between the ages of 18-34). In terms of staff, Bookstr has 21 full-time employees (with six being staffers, and about 15 being full-time contract workers).
The reorganized Bookstr is now led by CEO Sarah Hill, who was the company’s first American employee.
Bookstr creates about 50 book and author-related articles a week and the site can be used as a discovery platform. Using the Bookstr app, consumers can organize online book clubs. Bookstrs operations remain focused on, as Noonan put it, “social book discovery." All of these activities, Noonan stressed, will be expanded when the new website and app launch. (The new site is live now with the app rolling out later in September.)
The app, Noonan said, will also allow members to connect online, chat about books, and subscribe to category and genre groups. Members can buy books via the app and receive posts, newsletters and recommendations about the categories to which they are subscribed.
Although the site offers members the ability to buy physical titles and e-books, Hill told PW that Bookstr is not dependent on book sales for revenue. In fact, through a partnership, Bookstr donates 50% of the profit on each book sale to Room to Read, a nonprofit that promotes literacy in the developing world.
Instead, Bookstr brings in revenue through multiple streams, including sponsored ads, content partnerships (similar to native advertising), data harvesting and via its its email newsletters. The site has three weekly newsletters, and uses direct market email and specialty newsletters focused on genres and readers' interests.
“We know the millennial market well and think we have data [that can be offered for sale] that will be insightful to publishers and others,” Hill said.
“We’re hiring and growing and looking for talent,” she continued. “It’s an exciting time."