A team of more than 120 authors has come together to fund BingeBooks, an online community and book discovery site that launched November 18. On BingeBooks can browse digital, print, and audiobook fiction from Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan alongside 7,000 titles by indie authors. Readers can also share and create book lists, watch book videos, and sample books on the site. Every listing has a "Buy Now" button that links to online retailers where readers can buy the title.
“We aren’t a retailer, but we do provide purchase links for our partner retailers,” said co-founder and CEO Alessandra Torre, explaining the business model. "We’ll earn affiliate income from purchases," she said. Those partner retailers include Apple Books, Amazon, and Kobo. The company will add Bookshop links soon, according to the executive team. In addition, BingeBooks will offer paid promotion options for authors in the future. “In early 2021, we’ll start charging authors for placement in the genre-specific Binge-worthy newsletters that will go out to a continually growing subscriber list,” said Torre, who is also the author of 22 romance and suspense novels.
The idea for the site began in 2019 when the co-founders pondered solutions to the problem of book discovery. According to thriller author and BingeBooks chief experience officer J.D. Lasica, that early conversation “quickly evolved into a bigger idea to create a platform and community for indie and traditional authors as well as readers.” Those founding members decided to self-fund, “so we raised capital from our founding authors,” said co-founder Lasica.
Torre calls BingeBooks “a virtual first company,” with members working in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Even before the pandemic, the founders had been using digital tools like Slack and Zoom to coordinate the project. “We have no need or plans for an office. We’re all about keeping costs low and reinvesting all income into the product and into marketing efforts,” said Torre.
The founders of BingeBooks intend to highlight “emerging authors and writers from underrepresented communities,” Torre said. “Soon, we’ll open up our platform for any author to come and create an author page and have their books appear on our site, for free.” In the meantime, her team “hand-curates” selections for each genre “to ensure that readers are given a diverse selection of titles from authors of all backgrounds.”
The site is built on the fan relationships and reader communities that these founding authors have built over time. Through her Alessandra Torre Ink website, the BingeBooks CEO offers free resources and courses for writers, nurturing a community of more than 12,500 members in her private Facebook group. Other founders have led Amazon bestseller lists, including science-fiction novelist Douglas E. Richards, cozy mystery novelist Kathy Daley, and fantasy novelist Shayne Silvers.
“A few months ago, three of our founding authors hit the Wall Street Journal fiction bestsellers list on the same day,” said Torre. These authors were Pamela M. Kelley with “The Restaurant," Susan Stoker with “Securing Avery,” and Corinne Michaels for “Fight for Me.”