The sphere of books seems to be offering an alluring space for disruption. Things change slowly in publishing, speaking of both paperback and online, which makes us, technology savvy creatures, see what the world of startups has conceived to address this words inhabited industry. Tablo is an Australia based startup that makes things in publishing run smoothly and efficiently for an aspiring author.
Should you only try to go through the whole process of publishing an ebook, you may run the risk of getting discouraged given how complicated this all is. Tablo takes the complexity out of ebook publishing masterfully handling the frustrating procedure themselves. You can simply create a book in the cloud, click publish and see your masterpiece on the iBookstore or Amazon.
Apart from putting a book up there, Tablo also gives a chance for writers to connect with the readers. After all, we all know how important the feedback is once you have created something. Great design and simplicity of use couldn’t leave me indifferent. So after featuring Tablo in our startups digest, I contacted
Me: Your own experience in getting your books into online stores explains why you decided to simplify the frustrating publishing process. Could you tell a few words about the first months of work on creating Tablo? How did it all get into gear?
Ashley: Starting Tablo was kind of accidental. I knew there was an opportunity to simplify the publishing process, so I put up a little landing page with an online form where people could register their interest. Sure enough, other people out there were experiencing the same problem. In its first month it was so, so basic. I was treating Tablo as an afterhours project whilst at uni, but the attention it received lead me to spend all of my uni lectures and tutes building a more thorough MVP.
Me: What’s your take on the current online publishing, and how do you think this should work?
Ashley: Online publishing is making great progress. Services like WordPress and Medium are doing wonderful things for the creation and discovery of content. In the book space though, major publishers still hold all of the power. Publishing a book in 2014 is the same as it was in 1914. Some of the world’s most respected authors, from Stephen King to J.K. Rowling, were all rejected by publishers dozens of times.
The model has always been broken, and today we have the tools to fix it. We’re working on a whole new discoverability model for books — one that lets authors build their readership while they write their books. Emerging content is promoted and the next bestseller can now be spotted before it’s even been published.
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Me: Tablo was selected for the mentor-driven AngelCube accelerator program in 2013. What can you say about the overall experience of being a member of this program?
Ashley: AngelCube is the reason we’re where we are today. The program pushed us to focus, think deeply about our product and users, and also develop a broader vision about what the future of the publishing industry could look like. The connections made through the program ultimately lead us to raise a round of funding for the company.
Me: What is the biggest difficulty on the way?
Ashley: We’re building a two-sided market. We’ll attract more authors if we have more readers, but we’ll only attract more readers if there are more great books to discover. It’s leading us to split our efforts on building products for authors and readers, and build campaigns for both sides of the market simultaneously. We’re getting there, but it makes things tough!
Me: Speaking of the books themselves. Are there any limitations to what sort of books can be published? Do the books get reviewed before they appear on Amazon or iBookstore?
Ashley: They go through our quality assurance program, so we always make sure they meet the standards of bookstores. There aren’t any unreasonable limitations.
Me: What does Tablo give to the author once the book is published?
Ashley: Sales reporting, a full book management portal and some pretty awesome customer support. You’ll also have a personal profile where you can share your books, updates and connect with your readers.
Me: Now as you have raised $400k in Seed what other services is Tablo planning to roll out?
Ashley: Great question. We’re working on some things that will change the way books are discovered. I can’t say too much, but it will give every emerging author a chance to have their work discovered by a massive online community of readers.
Me: There are other tools for creating ebooks. Which service do you see as your main competitor? What is Tablo’s competitive advantage?
Ashley: Smashwords is a big competitor on the publishing side — they’re currently the biggest indie publisher of books. We have a few major competitive advantages. The biggest is ease of use. Smashwords has strict formatting guidelines. Their styleguide for preparing a document is 100 pages long. With Tablo though, you can drop in an unprepared document and have a publish ready book in seconds. It’s scarily easy, and it results in a significantly better publishing experience. We also offer 100% royalties, tools to communicate with your readers, and a chance to build a bigger following before you’ve even published your book.
Me: What books published through Tablo are particularly successful?
Ashley: We have a number of bestselling authors. One in particular, John Buck, loved the service so much he actually reinvested his book’s earnings and joined Tablo’s seed round.
Me: You have over 10,000 authors in over 100 countries using your platform. What do you think is the most attractive in Tablo? What do you attribute your success with Tablo to?
Ashley: We turn new writers into published authors with an established following. It’s all about the product. At the core, authors aren’t using Tablo because it’s pretty and easy to use. They’re using Tablo because it makes them a better version of themselves.
Me: What is it exactly that you have done differently than any other e-publishing service before?
Ashley: We’ve kind of reversed the entire publishing model. Traditionally, the first time an author would connect with a reader is when their book was published and on a bookshelf. We give them the opportunity to connect with that reader on day 1. It’s a little difference, but it changes everything.
Me: What are you most excited about at the moment?
Ashley: The future, our product pipeline, and stickers. We’re buying a lot of stickers.
Me: Stickers sound like fun! It was great to talk to you, Ashley. Thanks a lot for this interview. Good luck with reaching new horizons for Tablo!