Earlier this month, W7 Brazil Capital announced its investment in Widbook, the so-called YouTube of Books. A Brazil-based literary social network with international aspirations, Widbook reaches out to readers who want to find good stories and writers who want to create their own.
Launched in 2012, Widbook’s main focus is to help authors to get their work out there without going through literary agents, editors or publishing houses. Widbook is still in the process of refining its product and adding features to its platform that allow users to work and interact simultaneously, and its app is in development as well.
Widbook is one of many startups exploring the attached possibilities and looking to define its place in the digital literature space. Though e-reader sales are declining (nine million were sold in the U.S. in 2012), the number of people e-reading is not. Many users are simply switching over to tablets – and that market is booming. Tablet sales are expected to hit 165.9 million units this year.
For startups in the digital reading market, this is an opportunity to be seized upon. Flávio Aguiar, Founder and CEO of Widbook, told us exactly how his company plans to do so.
Emily Stewart: Could you tell me a bit of the back story of Widbook?
Flávio Aguiar: The idea of a collaborative platform started with a simple conversation with a friend of mine, a university professor. He said he was very interested in a place where he could write his essays and easily exchange ideas with some other colleagues from work as well. People seemed to like the concept.
Thus, we started thinking about the subject and developing our ideas more as a way to share and spread information among users, connecting them through their own stories and letting them have the chance to get involved with other projects, becoming a co-authors on plots as well.
Today, with the global expansion of the digital market, we know that competition to deliver the best content is fierce. We have committed to build a platform that stands out from others and fills a gap in the market for digital readers and writers all around the world.
ES: Where does copyright fall in all of this?
ES: One of Widbook’s major advantages is the popularity of e-readers and the platform’s compatibility with such devices. What exactly is the relationship?
FA: Our goal is to make a new e-book format available through Widbook. We also aim to guarantee more mobility to users who may want to consume their content through the soon-to-come Widbook app for mobile devices. Our users have the opportunity to convert their books into various formats, ensuring that they won´t encounter any barriers, regardless of device.
ES: Anyone can write and publish on Widbook. What about quality? Do you think this could be a legitimate space for writers to exhibit their work? Would you consider vetting work?
FA: We give users the freedom and autonomy to express themselves and write whatever they want, rendering our product more convenient and interesting. However, there are a few mechanisms on Widbook that don’t allow inappropriate or illicit content.
Readers classify the content on Widbook based on cultural and social criteria. On Widbook, we just obey their classifications and rank the books accordingly. We see the product as a community of content and information.
Our goal now is to change the world of writing, offering the best collaborative platform and giving new and talented authors a chance to showcase their work.