Pronoun is a new company launched by the folks at Vook. They want to convince indie authors that they are a better alternative to LULU, Nook Press, Kobo Writing Life and Smashwords. How can a startup basically come out of nowhere and be a compelling value proposition for digitally savvy authors? Simple, they will put you in every major online store and give you 100% of all the royalties.
Pronoun knew they had to present a better alternative to most of the major online bookstores, which only pay authors between 60% or 70% per each sale. The sales should be fairly steady, as Pronouns distribution network includes Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo.
Authors do not need to be skeptical about Pronouns intentions. They are a profitable company without dipping into the pockets of authors. Pronoun just raised $3.5 million in new funding from Avalon Ventures, so they have enough to remain in business. They also have big clients such as the New York Times, Forbes, and Fast Company who pay them for their real-time data and analytics service that stemmed from the Vook acquisition of Booklr.
Pronoun is not only appealing to authors but has picked up some allies in the formation of their company. Stefan Pepe, who formerly served as Director of Amazon’s North American books division, had joined its Board of Advisers at Pronoun. Stefan previously held executive roles at Ideeli, Gilt, and Zynga.
I think Pronoun is a safe bet for indie authors. They have an online digital e-book creator suite that can create cover art and insure everything from table of contents to mobile readiness can be established. They are utilizing their real-time data service to monitor sales and report them faster than anyone else. Hell, they even throw in a free ISBN number so your books aren’t relegated to the shadow realm.
“Book publishing remains a multibillion dollar industry and an important part of our media culture, but its infrastructure and business model is trapped in an analog world. We believe there’s a massive opportunity to rethink how publishing works and operates”
With this financing, Pronoun is further developing its technology and data analytics, creating a viable alternative to the exclusions and restrictions of traditional publishing as well as to the complexity, limitations, and high costs of self-publishing for authors.
“At Pronoun our mission is to put the author at the core of everything we create,” said Josh Brody, Chief Executive Officer of Pronoun. “This funding allows us to continue building a team of people who sincerely value authors and their books, and to deepen our commitment to providing authors with free and meaningful tools, resources, and capabilities.”
Major media companies, brands, and bestselling authors, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, Jon Krakauer, Jodi Picoult, and Nick Hornby, have published more than 7,000 titles on Pronoun’s digital book creation and distribution platform. Pronoun’s proprietary data and analytics engine, which tracks performance, customer behavior, and pricing statistics on more than 5 million books each day, helps authors find and reach their audience for the lifetime of their books.
Pronoun joins Avalon Ventures’ successful investment portfolio in digital media, which includes Zynga, Simulmedia, Tapad, and Bookbub. Avalon Ventures partners Rich Levandov and Brady Bohrmann join Pronoun’s Board of Directors in conjunction with leading this investment.
“Book publishing remains a multibillion dollar industry and an important part of our media culture, but its infrastructure and business model is trapped in an analog world. We believe there’s a massive opportunity to rethink how publishing works and operates,” said Rich Levandov, Partner, Avalon Ventures. “As an investor, I look for companies and teams that are not only willing to be first movers, but that stand up for, and empower, creators. We invested in Pronoun because, like us, this team believes the future of publishing will be driven by technology, data, and a model that puts authors first.”
In addition to Rich Levandov and Brady Bohrmann, Elisabeth DeMarse, Chairman and CEO of TheStreet, joins Pronoun’s Board of Directors. DeMarse also sits on the board of AppNexus, and brings with her more than two decades of operational experience in traditional and digital media. Pronoun also welcomes Amazon veteran Stefan Pepe to its Board of Advisors. Pepe formerly served as Director of Amazon’s North American books division, and held executive roles at Ideeli, Gilt, and Zynga. He is also a board director at Domino Media Group.
“I spent a decade at Amazon as digital technology transformed the publishing landscape,” said Pepe. “I am excited for a new phase of innovation, and Pronoun’s emphasis on technology and data, paired with the team’s unparalleled focus on the author, uniquely positions the company to create a better model for book publishing.”
Pronoun is a digital publishing platform that empowers every author to create and distribute beautiful digital books, own and control their work and their rights, and receive 100% of their earnings – all for free. Pronoun is based in New York City. It is backed by several leading venture capital firms, including Avalon Ventures, Floodgate, Tribeca Venture Partners, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Founder Collective, Felicis Ventures, Baseline Ventures, and SV Angel.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.