The Reading Room looking to open book on expansion, new investment

A small Sydney start-up is looking to break the eBook hegemony of tech giants Apple and Amazon by raising funds and expanding rapidly in Australia, the US and Europe.


The Reading Room, which was created in 2009, is to roll out its first eBook app next month, selling more than 250,000 online titles.


Despite facing a market dominated by Amazon and Apple’s iBook platform, the Sydney business hopes to offer a point of differentiation by acting as an “online book club” for readers.


“We can provide a different kind of experience to Amazon that is immersed in the pleasure of books,” founder and CEO Kim Anderson, a former Southern Cross Broadcasting and Nine Network executive, tells StartupSmart.


“This will be a place where you can have a book club, share books with others and keep track of your reading. It’s not a catalogue experience – it’s about buying after experiencing.”


Readers will be able to build libraries of books and share chapters of other people’s books before purchasing. Anderson says that publishers in US, Britain, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia have shown interest in partnering with The Reading Room.


“We aren’t in the business of challenging Apple or Amazon’s market position, but we want to bring about another sort of consumer experience.”


“When you see 700 reviews for a book on Amazon, which one do you believe? We’ll have reviews from The New York Times and The Guardian, which will improve the sphere of influence. It’ll be a more intimate experience.”


Anderson says that the business, which has already been backed by angel investors, is set to undertake “subsequent rounds of founding” in the next year in both the US and Australia.


“It’s been challenging working in an industry that’s in an inflexion point,” she says. “It’s an eye opener to see how a rapidly changing sector operates.”


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