Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Redroom.com: Author Central

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the launch of a new author/publisher/reader community site named Redroom.com which went live December 21. Redroom is founded by
Ivory Madison who wants to create a site that is "...a household name, where people start when they're looking for an author, a book or what people are saying about current ideas or events...Because we have the writers, we have the potential to be the smartest conversation on the Web."

The site is starting off with a number of well known authors including Amy Tan and Salman Rushdie and Madison expects as many as 400 to establish their web presence in the short term. From the article:
All writers join the Web site for free, and soon readers will be able to have their own free pages, too. Publishers also will be invited to have free Web pages on Redroom.com, with Chronicle Books serving as the Web site's first test case. Madison has collected $1.25 million in venture capital for the business and has hired a staff of 15, and anticipates raising $2 million more in the coming months. She said she expects to break even in 2008 and make $15 million in gross revenue in 2009.
Revenues will be generated by ad revenues and tranaction fee and a portion of revenues will be designated for charity.

Whether this will succeed is any ones guess. It does seems a long shot to me that this will develop into a sizable web presence that a significant number of consumers will be interested in. I am of the belief that the market for author sites or book sites is fairly narrow. Witness the long list of consumer oriented magazines about books and authors that have failed over the years. These outlets failed both because ad dollars were sparse and subscritions were minimal.

On the other hand, the initiative is worth attempting and it is worth noting that potentially 'natural' developers of a site like this such as Publisher's Weekly or Kirkus (or even Bowker) continue to be non-players. Innovative projects like Librarything.com and possibly Redroom fill gaps that for some reason the existing players don't see or can't react to. Redroom may be worth keeping track of and I do like the design and navigation of the site: It is very well done.


Anonymous said...

This very clearly validates, or at least echoes, the direction HarperCollins is already
going in to provide these types of services to authors. In our case,
we are aiming to integrate author generated content with the author's own "book" content--through our Author Assistant and our Browse Inside
applications available on harpercollins.com. We think it makes the most sense for readers to have an integrated experience of book and
author--why should they have to go to one site to look at the book,
and many others to hear the author's voice? And second, why shouldn't the publisher be providing this, even for "midlist" authors? Here's one example.
> Stephanie Laurens author page:
> http://www.harpercollins.com/author/index.aspx?authorID=17367
> Stephanie Laurens Browse Inside for "What Price Love?"

We are still in the processing of fully integrating book content onto our site via this latest version of Browse Inside that was soft launced last month. There's a feedback feature inside Browse Inside for anyone who wishes to let us know your thoughts.

Carolyn Pittis

Anonymous said...

What a great platform, Carolyn.

We're working along similar lines at O'Reilly, with the goal of building a better podium for our authors and to increase and solidify our relevancy to them. Many publishers have not only given up on promoting all but top-tier authors and books, but they also haven't given them tools to do it on their own. I know one author who recently published a beautifully produced hardback with a major NY publisher who, he claims, did little more than send a press release. He said he couldn't even get a PR list from them so he could do his own follow-up, and has taken on all promo and publicity himself. Like many others, he's part of the migration to myspace, facebook, and sites like Redroom and Booktour, where he's building his own community while seriously considering Lulu or Booksurge for his next project.

Here's a bit of what we're working on: http://www.oreilly.com/authors/ . There's more to come, primarily around community building. Without tools like these, authors will ask, like my friend has, "Why do I need
a publisher?"

--Allen Noren
O'Reilly Media