The long awaited launch of BookRiff, the system that promises to let people mix and match content from various sources to create their own book, is now slated for the end of September.
“It’s been a long journey, but part of that has also primarily been dealing with the changes in the marketplace,” CEO Rochelle Grayson tells PW. When BookRiff was first created, as a part of D&M Publishers in Vancouver, the idea was that the personal compilations, or “riffs,” as the company calls them, would be print-on-demand books. In the meanwhile, however, company officials realized they needed to create an e-version as well, and BookRiff was spun off as a separate entity.
“We’ve spent the last year focusing on the whole digital space and creating the tool that allows people to mix and match these e-pubs while maintaining all of the licensing and attribution for the original content owners,” says Grayson. Now, the system is almost ready for its debut. It will start with the digital files. The system to make print-on-demand books, with partner Ingram, will launch later this year or early in the spring, Grayson says.
She added that BookRiff is leveraging social networks so that people can promote their personal riffs, but BookRiff will also have a marketplace where they can sell their creations to others. “The biggest reason we’re finding people are interested in this is that it is a way to monetize your content.”
BookRiff expects that the system will be popular for people creating from various sources their own cookbooks, fitness and training manuals, and parenting guides. “We’ve already partnered with a very large technology publisher that wants to allow technologists and people in the technology field to pick and choose basic reference content from books but also perhaps add their own content that would be for sale,” says Grayson. Users will be able to add their own comments and chapters, and Grayson says that one of the biggest markets is expected to be the educational field. Instructors and professors could create their own course packages, with chapters from various books combined with their own original materials. So far, however, BookRiff is still only in discussions with several STM publishers.
Grayson says BookRiff could also be used by people to self-publish. “We’re also getting interest from literary agents who have authors they are representing that have manuscripts that have not been assigned to a publisher, maybe even previous manuscripts, and they’re saying, ‘maybe we could get this distributed through BookRiff.’ ”
So far, the company has agreements with 10 publishers in North America, who will make their content available to BookRiff users, and Grayson says the company has had a good response and interest from many more publishers. “The way that we’re structured is the agency model, so prices are set by the publishers and they set all the permissions and regulations and regions where that content can be purchased. We were asking publishers to sign a publisher agreement but we’re not asking for minimum guarantees in terms of number of books.” That allows publishers to test out the system with a few books as a pilot, she says.