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By R.J. Huneke Pop Culture Examiner
An exclusive interview with Librify Vice President Eva Ongeri
Teaming up with Target, Librify is poised to launch a comprehensive virtual book club headquarters that is sure to provide readers with many never-before-seen book experiences.
I sat down with Eva Ongeri, the VP of Strategic Partnerships at Librify at the Book Expo of America, in Manhattan’s Javit’s Center on May 30, 2014.
“Get in on the latest and greatest reading platform,” said Ms. Ongeri.
The passion of the Librify team came across at once in a quick heartfelt note of encouragement for potential Librify readers.
Their current model is procuring members to build book clubs within Librify, to receive an e-book a month, to get great deals and promotions for books in print from Target, and of course to engage and interact with the myriad readers and authors on Librify.
The goal is to guide readers to what will best serve their time.
Choosing the Best Talked About Books to Read
Librify aims to give a valuable recommendation, through its users, reviews, and book club platform, to “make a decision on what’s the next book to read,” said Eva Ongeri.
In an increasingly busy society where billions are connected online, choosing where to spend the limiting 24 hours in a day can be tough.
“People have time commitments and we recognize that,” said Ms. Ongeri, “and we want to help people find the best books to read” in their too-often crammed day.
Doing this is more about connecting Librify members and authors in an organic way with recommendations, rather than just deciding what Librify plugs as gospel.
“[It’s] great to get recommendations or guidance from your friends,” said Eva, “where we’re different is . . . the [Librify] platform will also allow you to engage with readers and users within Librify, within your book club itself . . . their discussion . . . [with] book club views [that] talk about books . . . [and] different book clubs’ views.
“At the moment, social engagements are happening sporadically across many social media platforms,” she went on, “this is specifically designed” for that purpose.
Readers, reviewers, book clubs, and authors are brought together to talk about worthy reads.
Cue The Authors
Live author discussions and engagements are scheduled to be a part of Librify’s app too, to give a further exclusive experience around the popular reads and the book club members.
“Librify speaks to the consumption of readers . . . once they start reading they want that social engagement about that book . . . authors want that too,” said Ongeri.
Connecting the authors with the readers is a powerful tool, and Ms. Ongeri said that “lots of authors are stopping bye and there is just lots of excitement.”
Early Bird Trial Membership + Buying Books On Librify
Librify is currently running trial memberships with a free e-book download and an exclusive invite-only introductory pricing promotion at a significant discount for the next few weeks.
This way, book club members on Librify can benefit as early adopters of the exclusive Librify book club model before it officially launches later this summer.
As VP of Strategic Partnerships Eva Ongeri points out, “the press has dubbed Librify’s ‘Membership model’” based on the future $8.99 per month fee, and this includes one purchase of an e-book that you download each month from a “Redemption List” of over 100 bestsellers and you own that book, regardless of your continued membership status.
There is also an a la carte selection of numerous e-books for purchasing separately at any time.
There are many discount offers on e-books to purchase and some books are offered for free, including many of the “classics.”
Each month, for the small fee, one book can be downloaded at no cost to the member and the virtual book club activity commences.
Librify refers book-hungry members to buy print books offered by Target.com and sometimes at a great discount. For those looking to buy e-book versions, Target will refer customers to Librify on their site, Librify.com.
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Continuing the exclusive interview with the publishing revolutionary Pentian’s founder and CEO Enrique Parrilla, he felt the need for a publisher-crowdsourcing hybrid became evident when frustrated authors were repeatedly being given less-than-fair treatment.
This is why Pentian purchases the right of first refusal publishing rights, but does not try to tie up authors in long-term contracts that forfeit much of their percentage of royalties and rights.
In the last article, I touched upon an author who had two successful books for a big publishing house and was refused any attempt at producing his next work, despite a huge following of avid readers; that author was Andres Gonzalez-Barba, and his novel Titania’s Dream is one of Pentian’s flagship titles.
When Pentian’s projects are picked up the investors in the book benefit from it for three years.
But it should be noted that an author could always buy out the invested partners, should they deem that a more lucrative option as the book flies off shelves. The point is that the author has far more rights retained and options, even when it is funded on Pentian.
As Mr. Parrilla says, the investment in a potential best-seller smash hit is a ”powerful incentive to find backers.”
Some of the readers and entrepreneurs funding projects are so fervently behind books they believe in that they will donate more money than they can benefit from.
Enrique has watched some donors “do the hundred dollar package three times,” even when they can only cash in on a reward once.
Mr. Parrilla was certainly happy with that fandom adding, “we’re not sure why [they do it]. We never asked why.”
Passion is a driving factor.
Even with a dream of furthering the international market by breaking into the United States, Pentian’s new disruptive invention was met with some hurdles, especially from the FCC as the word “investor” cropped up in the crowdfunding platform.
Enrique said that the “FCC concerns of investment” and regulation required a lot of hard work to get the right system in place along with the right “legal framework,” the right team, capacity, and connections to launch in a compliant and successful manner.
And the day of Pentian going online in the US has commenced, bringing a flurry of excitement with it across the Atlantic.
In as little as a month a book can be put together and printed in the highest quality formats.
“Make it look good,” said Enrique. “That means that unfortunately we have to look at everything that comes in [to publish] and many get politely declined.
“This is NOT Createspace where your book looks like crap, and they’re like ‘sorry.’”
Pentian has printing partnerships throughout the world, including Ingram International (which handles distribution as well), and the emphasis is first on quality and second on speed.
This is possible because of Pentian’s extraordinary business model.
Pentian has partnered with the very international printers and distributers, like Ingram, that have the resources to put a hardback on every shelf in the world (or at least close to it).
“You can sell a million copies of your book, one book at a time,” said Mr. Parrilla.
The agreements with industry companies for a print-on-demand platform puts the typical publisher’s year long (or often times even longer) turn around time to shame.
The antique process is one that the traditional “Big Five” publishers have held to for decades, despite increasing technological prowess, because there is so much red tape, handled by so many hands, that slows the book making process to a crawl. Plus, why should they bother to increase their turn-around times – the authors did not have a choice if they wanted their books distributed to the market.
Authors have a choice, as Pentian has cut out the red tape.
Since Pentian’s model is already thriving, it is clear that if you cut the fat from the bureaucratic mechanisms that bloat the larger publishing houses in the industry that you can put professional products on the market, at less cost, in a much more timely manner.
“Authors are primarily concerned with getting their book out tomorrow,” says Mr. Parrilla, “once the book is on the market, it’s on Amazon Kindle . . . it’s in Barnes & Noble . . . and then the author can decide to spend a thousand dollars . . . or a 100K [on marketing].”
Media and marketing comes after a book has been fully funded, and is being printed and put on the market.
Pentian also offers professional options to help authors advertise their product and feed their readership with fanfare.
But Mr. Parrilla is adamant that “quality comes first” at Pentian. Books are made the best they can be.
Great works are selected, put in the crowdsourcing engine, and the world determines if there is a commercial market to justify their funding for printing and distributing.
The process continues far after Pentian puts a book on the market, however.
For instance, Pentian works closely with Apple‘s e-book store. Every 2 weeks Pentian talks to Apple about what is selling well, what the trends are, to feature that book on their e-book platform.
Anything can take off.
Graphic novels have solidified 4-6% of the books funded on Pentian, and a host of quality children’s books are also doing well.
Part of the beauty of the fairness to Pentian’s model is that a book on a subject, like agoraphobia, which would never be deemed to have enough of a commercial market to get printed by a traditional publishing house, has a chance to test the market.
And as Mr. Parrilla remarked was put out on bookshelves and proceeded to do extremely well as a “theme of interest to what we call a great minority.”
When the subject resonates with an audience across the world, in Chile for instance, Apple downloads of the agoraphobia e-book from Pentian goes through the roof.
Another reason for Pentian enthusiasm from the authors’ community is that a longtime success with a huge fan-base, like Spanish sportscaster Gaspar Rosetty, does not have to settle for pennies per book sold from a traditional publishing deal on royalties.
Pentian is currently hosting Rosetty’s The Alchemists’ Night [La Noche De Los Alquimistas] for funding, but remember once it reaches 100% there will be no more chances to crowdfund the title.
Read the rest of the article on Examiner.com here
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Part I of an Exclusive Two-part Interview with PENTIAN CEO & Founder Enrique Parrilla
On May 31, 2014 PENTIAN launched its revolutionary publishing and crowdfunding model in the US at the Book Expo of America.
Things will never be the same.
I was fortunate to sit down with Founder and CEO Enrique Parrilla, just hours after the exciting debut going on in the Jacob Javit’s Center in New York City, and his vision of the future of the publishing world is keen and bright for both readers and artists taking part in Pentian’s “everyone wins” platform.
Mr. Parrilla was very pleased when he stepped away from the buzz of the Pentian booth at the Book Expo to talk to me. Dressed in a sharp suit jacket and button-down shirt that was happily tie-less, his passion for books immediately became contagious.
He started off saying, “[we’re] launching as we speak, and people are going [crazy] over it.”
Pentian is invoking their crowdfunding platform, as a publisher, and their business plan calls on potential readers and investors to crowdfund their Pentian favorites so that the cost to create, print and distribute the book on the market is covered by the determinate readers who wish to bring their authors’ works to life.
Pentian believes that invoking a community around funding a book helps to add to the media exposure and burgeon its success.
Mr. Parrilla spoke very candidly that Pentian “seek[s] to reward . . . the backers with financial compensation for 3 years . . . with profits from [the funded] book. What this essentially does is create an army of sales people for that book working for you.”
Authors everywhere rejoice!
Rarely has a business model helped to provide them with such free marketing prowess or incentive.
He went on to say that with the “small army of people who are financially invested [in the projects] . . . we have a very fair mechanism to reward those people who have taken a risk.”
Who as an avid reader would not warrant risking a few hundred dollars on an author and/or idea they are passionate about – and feel would take the world by storm, whether hitting the best-seller list or becoming a successful Hollywood film – especially when they would be compensated a set percentage of sales for three years for their investment?
Readers and stockbrokers beware: there is a new investment portfolio in town!
“Being a publishing company ourselves,” says Pentian founder Enrique Parrilla, “we own the production process.”
The process is quite simple:
“In thirty days we can have a book sold worldwide,” says Mr. Parrilla, as he smiled proudly.
The reason Pentian promotes a “disruptive” connection is because they eliminate the old barriers – disrupt them completely – in favor of a more direct model.
Published books used to be only held by the traditional publishing industry model and, in more recent years, by self-published authors (the majority of whom do not provide readers with quality product, whether in the physical paper printed or in the actual written material on the page).
This is not the case now that Pentian has created a publishing uprising and Renaissance of written works, of all genres, in Spain.
Since launching its beta test model six months ago, Pentian has captured over 6% of the self-publishing market and that number is growing exponentially as the company launches in the United States.
Mr. Parrilla believes Pentian has “great potential because it’s all over the world . . . you can push a button and your product is everywhere.”
And now the US is eager to see Pentian’s newest headquarters location in Los Angeles, California thrive.
“The reason we set up shop in L.A.,” said Mr. Parrilla, “is because we are seeking relationships with the media producers, the people that are in charge of acquiring content and licensing rights and stories are having a hard time finding original stories . . . and we have a situation where the market can determine what is hot.”
How did Pentian first come about?
Enrique says that they “saw a need that wasn’t being met.”
He spoke of a scenario he witnessed being played out on a major crowdfunding site: “One day . . . somebody looking for four or five thousand dollars [on a Kickstarter or Indiegogo-like campaign] got $20,000 . . . and did not publish the book” and they fulfilled their contractual obligation, took the profits, but the readership did not get the product they wanted.
Pentian strictly adheres to planning the production of a book and crowdfunding for that cost alone.
The cost is associated with getting a book on the market, not on the traditional crowdfunding for books, like the Kickstarter model, of continued funding through a certain period.
Once a book is backed, the crowd-funding campaign ends and the book creation begins. This as Enrique Parrilla says, “instills a sense of urgency” to back a project while there is still the opportunity to invest in it.
And Pentian already has a host of worldwide distribution partners, including Ingram, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google, Apple, El Corte Ingles and more.
This is turning the publishing industry on its head – as Pentian’s P/R release depicts – by allowing the readers to choose what a best seller will be, not the big publisher’s President and their marketing budget.
“Everyone Wins” as they say in their press release (except maybe the “Big 5”).
In terms of the “Big Five” traditional publishing houses determining most of what readers in the world get to see published, that time is quickly passing. Their business model is being shaken dramatically at its foundations.
Everyone looks to benefit from a more hands-on approach to publishing, as Pentian is happy to point out.
How exactly does Pentian decide what is “quality” and will be put up for funding?
In order to maintain a relationship with reputable distributers, Pentian adheres to a strict quality control – if a book is illegible or not up to snuff in terms of its overall shape and idea, Pentian politely declines the submission; if it is raw or “not 100%” on the surface, but the project’s idea and content is great, they will offer a team of experienced editors to polish or format the project, but not to alter any of the key creative plot or character elements, only to streamline the grammar and finished product.
The writer does not have to worry about compromising their creative work based on the publisher.
Mr. Parrilla was emphatic that at Pentian they “do not get into the content, in terms of editing . . . [he has] friends that have been going back and forth with a traditional editor [and publisher] for a year and a half to publish a book with an adulterer as the protagonist,” but because the US market does not like adulterers they required the ending changed to reflect poorly on the adulterer.
Pentian does NOT get involved in the writer’s content.
Pentian is looking to do what many of us have as a fundamental basis of our reading and writing souls desired: art is made and published as it is meant to be depicted by the artist, and the readers who are interested will actually see it as such.
In terms of creating art and writing, Pentian only offers an editing team as part of the production process if the work needs help polishing its grammatical and clerical work.
Successful authors are currently flocking to Pentian, because of their favoring the artists that create the work, not the publisher.
“The 'Big Five' houses . . . are going to start losing quality content from authors,” said Enrique.
He immediately cited an example of an author that has a following of 70,000+ social media followers, and has published two books with one of the traditional publishers, and when he went to have his third book published, they said simply that they had no interest in doing it.
He could come back to them with his next project. The author went looking to take advantage of the fan base he built himself and fund the book that the publisher callously discarded without even testing the market for interested readers, and Pentian was where he ended up. [We’ll hit on this author, by name and in detail, in part II of this interview, folks.]
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Coming Monday: Part II of the Exclusive Interview With Enrique Parrilla.
In the second part of this two-part article, you can look forward to the following topics:
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After a brilliant Book Expo of America, Rune Works will be on hand at this year's Special Edition NYC comic convention event at the Javit's Center in Manhattan!
Read up on the amazing weekend to be had on their site here!