12. June 2012–
Social reading platform Readmill today announced major new features and a mystery sum of new funding: namely, a Series A funding round led by Wellington Partners joined by existing investors Index Ventures and Passion Capital.
The new funds will be used to expand the Readmill team from eight to about a dozen people over the next six months, including someone in New York to manage key relationships with independent e-book retailers and publishers. Readmill, currently available for web and iPad, has also signalled plans to release an app for iPhone later this year.
Wellington Partners's other portfolio companies include Xing and Spotify. Partner Daniel Waterhouse said in a statement he believed Readmill could become a "ubiquitous part of everyone's reading lives" as consumers shift to a digital reading experience.
While it's still early days for the platform, co-founded by Henrik Berggren (pictured) and fellow Swede David Kjelkerud in Berlin in December 2011, the new funds - including a significant increased commitment by existing investors - are a sign growth is going well.
Other Readmill investors include Soundcloud’s Eric Wahlforss and Alexander Ljung.
New features - "Library" and "Send to Readmill"
Readmill lets users read, take notes and share their thoughts and recommendations with friends from within its apps. Its new Library feature lets users store all their e-book files in a single, central, cloud-based location. Retailers can also now embed a Send to Readmill button (next to Download) so users can send new purchases straight to their library.
"Selling digital content on the web today is very, very simple," Berggren explained. "You have apps like Gumroad where you can basically set up a store in a few hours and start selling books, reports, short stories, whatever." Yet, with all the required format conversions and device connections, it's extremely hard for users to buy from such stores. "We thought - what if we built some glue between these indy publishers and a great reading experience? So when people buy, they can click one button and then grab their iPad, fire up the Readmill app, and then it downloads automatically from our service."
According to Berggren, the response from partner retailers currently trying out the Send to Readmill function, including Leanpub, A Book Apart, Free-ebooks.net, Jottify, Publit, Bookrix and Bibliocrunch, is so far very positive.
Amazon "won't be the only one when the dust settles"
Amazon, which went live with its Kindle e-book reader in 2007, still dominates the retail market for digital books in the US. One recent estimate, as featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, puts its market share at about 60 per cent, followed by Barnes & Noble at 30 per cent and Apple at 10 per cent.
But Berggren, who spoke at leading trade fair BookExpo America last week, is confident indy e-book sellers will be able to gain ground. "There are great developments both on the publishers' side and the technology side," he said. "Everybody is starting to realise Amazon might not be the only e-book retailer out there when the dust settles."
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Image credit: Henrik Berggren speaking at SHARE, April 2012, courtesy of conference organisers' Flickr account