10. July 2012–
New mobile self-publishing platform "Booklets" just added SoundCloud to its list of integrated sources, among other features announced today.
Booklets, just out of private beta, lets you build mobile-friendly collections of images, text and sound - think song booklets for bands, look books, private holiday memories or gallery catalogues, all designed primarily for mobile use and running on HTML5.
Those collections can be kept private or made public, and shared between users (including via SMS and QR code). You can search in topics of interest (Berlin Fashion Week is taking off) or by location (vegan food in Berlin, for example) and "follow", "like" and comment on whatever catches your eye.
"I didn't want a full-on app, just some pages" - how it started
Berlin-based entrepreneur Dominik Faber dreamt up the original idea standing in a museum in Istanbul and wishing he had mobile access to info about the exhibition. "I didn't want a full-on app, I just wanted some pages," he recalls. He met neighbour Michael Roeder in the elevator of their building and got talking about how to build such collections cheaply. Roeder, as managing director of Iconmobile and ex-head of global user experience at Vodafone, took a shine to the idea and came on board as co-founder, after a stint as CEO at Faber's e-recruiting service Softgarden.
Paul Meinhard, a "very young, very creative" software engineer, and Christoph Beck, a former developer at Aka-Aki and co-founder of BitCrowd UG, round out Bookletworld's four-person founding team (part of a full team of 12, based in Berlin).
Since its private beta release in April, Bookletsworld has built up 400 collections and picked up seed funding from Alexander Brühl, Dr. Marcus Englert, Maks Giordano and a small amount from Estag Capital. Faber says they're now ready - and searching - for a Series A funding round.
Taking the old publishing world to the new - will it work?
Booklets charges corporate users for impressions on business pages shown in private collections. For example, Adidas might publish a booklet of running shoe models - I might then use one of those pages in a private collection on my favourite running spots in Berlin. That makes sense (and introducing it openly from the get go avoids some of the awkwardness Pinterest is experiencing) - and there's benefit for both sides, as pulling an image from Adidas' page will save me a Google search.
So far, most of the businesses Booklets is working with are fashion labels, including Berlin designer Lena Hoschek.
There aren't many direct competitors out there, Faber says. French "rich post" platform Webdoc is one, but it's more of a Tumblr-style format and less geared towards mobile.
Can Booklets compete with other options for online personal expression (Pinterest also lets you embed SoundCloud files) or with "full-on" commercial apps? The strength and the weakness of Booklets, for me, is that it takes such an old-school format and brings it into the digital age. Some people will crave the familiar, easily digestible format - just a few mobile pages. Others will prefer something completely new that takes advantage of the full possibilities web and mobile have to offer.
It's not a niche currently occupied though and "full-on" apps aren't cheap. Don't be surprised to see this one turning up at an underground Berlin gallery near you.