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.