I’m a huge book fan. Not only do I have a massive library at home, but I’ve embraced all the new e-book technologies and I’ve been the proud owner of at least five different e-book readers so far. Having used them extensively, both as a reader and a writer, I’ve always felt we’re still waiting for the real revolution to happen. For the past three years I’ve been searching for good start-ups in that space. I knew, true disruption could only come from a start-up and that publishing houses will just follow trend once they have no other options.
Some keep pointing, as they did with the music industry, that books are dead. I’m not even going to get into such a discussion, specially after what Richard Nash wrote on the future of the literature business which, I highly recommend reading. I’m actually going to argue quite the opposite. There isn’t enough innovation going on in the space.
After many years searching for a great project, I recently had a call from a Spaniard living in Berlin that very timidly pitched me his start-up, libros.com. Apart from the fact that having a premium domain is already a plus (libros = books), I was amazed by his start-up. It wasn’t the ebook distribution platform they where building, but the previous process, how they where crowdfunding the new books through their own platform which struck me as genius, specially after he showed me their numbers. They had control over which books where doing ok, how much support they where getting and, based on that they could decide if the launched it or not.
I fell in love with the project immediately. I had finally found a great project with a great team that was willing to burn all the bridges with the old editorial world. We started collaborating immediately. Since then, we’ve been working on different things, mainly raising a new round for the company. A month ago, the CEO came to Madrid and gave me a fresh copy of their latest book, Syria, beyond Bab Al-Salam. I didn’t intend on reading it, but he told me the story behind the book and I was captured.
Six Spanish journalists that out of their own money head to Syria in 2012, they infiltrate the country risking their lives and bring 14 human stories of what’s really going on in the country. When they got back, they tried to sell the news to the TV channels and all of them turned them down arguing that the war in Syria was history. Here we’re talking about a conflict with over 70.000 dead so far, and these are just the official numbers. So, instead of dropping the stories they brought back, they decided to group them and self publish the stories in a book through the libros.com crowdfunding platform.
Not only did they raised nearly 10.000€ in 45 days, but they also got major PR from many sources. I had to read the book. I cried. I was amazed at how could those stories slip through the cracks of the News world. Now we’re pushing hard to have it translated it to English so it can reach a much wider audience.
If, like me, you believe in a new way of publishing, of getting people involved, of supporting stories that should see the light of day, please do raise awareness of the book and make any donation you want. Just as a side note, and to get a sense of how dangerous the area is for journalists, four Italian journalists were recently kidnapped and then released by an Islamic group in Syria (they got lucky it wasn’t the regime, as they shoot journalists on sight). Also, thanks to their bravery, one of the co-authors of the Syra book just won the Pulitzer award for their pictures of the conflict, which tells a lot about them.
As a premier, some of you already know I’m working on a book, well, it’ll also be featured in the crowd-funding platform very soon, so stay tuned!