These startups are disrupting the publishing industry

By Liat Clark

Seven digital publishing entrepreneurs gathered at the London Book Fair this week to battle it out for the British Council’s YCE Digital Publishing Entrepreneur award.

The competition, part of the International Book Industry Excellence Awards, took place at the London Book Fair on 8 April, and demonstrated just how many avenues are still ripe for disruption in the publishing industry. Amazon, the reigning incumbent in the sector, might yet be displaced.

Each of the entrepreneurs came to London after a rigorous selection and competition phase in their own countries, where the British Council’s counterparts sought out those making the biggest splash.

Here are a three of Wired’s favourite companies from the competition.

Ricardo Almeida was named the winner for his 2009 launch of self-publishing digital platform Clube de Autores. The platform is now one of the biggest of its kind in Latin America, responsible for ten percent of all books published in Brazil every year, and was helped along by a funding boost in 2013 from Fundo Santa Catarina.

“People want more than a traditional version of a book”
Ricardo Almeida, Clube de Autores
The success of Clube de Autores is partly in how it supports the writing community. Authors do not have to pay a penny towards production costs, which work on an on-demand basis for both print and digital copies. It meant that, as of last year, the startup was able to establish a network of 21,000 authors, publishing 24,000 titles.

“Amazon has had a really hard time getting into Brazil,” commented Almeida during his pitch to the judging panel, made up of Rohan Gunatillake, trustee of the British Council and Buddhify creator, director of Argentinian digital publishing house Teseo Octavio Kulesz, chair of Culture 24 Anna Rafferty and Julia Kingsford, consultant for digital reading platform, Valobox. “It means there are some big players there already. Eventually Amazon will get to our market, but the face of that market is changing. People want more than a traditional version of a book, and this is something we can make available.”

The judging panel commented: “Clube de Autores has an impressive range of services which build on each other, fantastically impressive results from a small team in a scaleable smart way. Genius. This award, which is about showcasing people pushing the boundaries of digital publishing is perfectly illustrated in Clube de Autores”.

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