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Buying, Selling Rights At GoodStory.com
Calvin Reid -- 2/21/00

Looking to create a rights marketplace open to amateur authors as well as professional writers and agents, a Manhattan-based Web business development firm has launched GoodStory.com, a Web-based platform for the buying and selling of rights for books, short stories, articles and screenplays.

Much like Rightscenter.com, a book-industry-conceived online rights marketplace, GoodStory.com is offering a digital equivalent to the real world rights market that it claims will provide inexpensive, easy communications and secure, confidential transactions between sellers and buyers. GoodStory.com president Anthony Jacobson, a former film agent at the William Morris Agency, told PW he expects to "establish a democratic marketplace" by creating a low-cost Web-based platform for writers and agents to sell rights to a wide variety of content. "We're after seasoned professionals and hobbyists," Jacobson explained. "We accept all kinds of materials." Although GoodStory.com's management background is in film, Jacobson emphasized that the site is aggressively courting the book publishing industry.

The site (www.goodstory.com) was conceived by Mark Patricof, a former executive at Creative Artists Agency and now the CEO of the Web development firm KPE, parent company to GoodStory.com. KPE has also designed and launched a number of Web ventures, including Beauty.com, and has designed Web sites for Oprah and Daily Variety.

Jacobson told PW that the site is soliciting writers of all kinds to post information about themselves as well as synopses of their writing projects. For a fee of $10-$15 (or $100 for a year's membership), each writer can post a short description of his or her book, short story, article, screenplay or even a full manuscript. "Authors spend more than that copying and mailing a manuscript," Jacobson noted.

The site plans to offer a database of this information, which will allow prospective buyers to search for a specific kind of story, book project or film project. To protect buyers and sellers, said Jacobson, potential buyers must make an e-mail request for access to posted material that will then be denied or granted by the seller. Once permission to see material is granted, the potential buyer can download a PDF file of the posted material that has been digitally watermarked to prevent photocopying and will automatically disable itself after three days. Jacobson pointed out that the site will maintain a digital "record of everything" that transpires after a request. "People are worried about their material for good reason. GoodStory provides security for both parties."

However, other than posting fees, the site's potential revenue stream seems vague. Jacobson said the site will not take a percentage of transactions. He nixed banner ads as well: "They sully the look of the site, and it's still an unproven business model." Instead, the site will look for "complementary noninvasive corporate sponsors," said Jacobson, "not your classic ad model but customized sponsorships," keyed to the subject areas of the site's content database.

The site is currently in beta testing; writers can post their projects for free until the site g s live in March. According to Jacobson, the site has attracted about 600 writers so far. "We're testing the waters. Writers can submit their work, experience the site and tell us what they think of it." While the site allows writers to present their works directly to buyers, he emphasized that GoodStory.com is not out to replace agents. "We're not representing writers; we're providing a platform for the market," he told PW. "We've also been meeting with publishing houses, agents and studios, and we're getting a good response."

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