Have you ever noticed how everyone fancies themselves as a writer these days? Whether it’s through a blog, a long-promised novel (guilty, your honour) or even plunging into a change of career as a freelance author, the barriers to seeing your name in (virtual) print have shrunk dramatically over the last decade or so.
This trend is especially true with ebooks, which have taken out the middleman in the form of the publishing house. Now it’s even easier to share your words with the world thanks to Liberio, a new platform that makes it possible to publish an ebook in just one click.
Liberio has now been released to the public having been in beta for six months. And one of the people behind it will certainly be recognisable to many – Nicolas Zimmer, erstwhile permanent secretary to the then-Berlin Senate Minister for Economics, Technology and Research, and current head of the Technologiestiftung Berlin (TSB, the Berlin Technology Foundation).
Together with his co-founder, American Cat Noone, they have been working on Liberio for more than a year, and are now aiming to bring it to the masses – with the US offering the biggest market.
Liberio is designed to be a completely open platform, enabling professionals and amateurs alike to create, publish and distribute quality ebooks in minutes without the need for additional applications or software.
On the Bookshelf
The platform works on a freemium model – “everybody who wants to share information without monetising should be allowed to do that with Liberio for free,” Nicolas told Silicon Allee – and once you have created an account, you are given a Bookshelf where all the ebooks you create are displayed.
To create an ebook, users just click ‘Add Book’ to import a document before customising the look, including synopsis, page breaks and licensing. Then it’s just a matter of clicking ‘Create’ and the ebook will be built, along with a minisite to showcase it.
Features rolling out in the next few days include the Style Editor, which enables authors to edit and style their ebook from cover to page layout, in-app ISBN purchases – a must if you want to sell the book – and author profiles which offer bios and contact links.
Indeed, it’s the ease of use which Liberio’s creators say is its USP, making it simpler than ever before for every would-be author to get published.
“You can publish with one click,” Nicolas said. “That’s quite different from what other platforms are offering. And we are aiming to provide a process which covers from creation to editing, uploading or even designing a cover, and previewing how it looks on a tablet or smartphone. And then, with another click, you just publish the book.”
The microsite will allow users to share their books with a shortlink, and while the platform has launched with Google Drive integration, the team is planning to add Dropbox, OneDrive and other cloud-based storage services soon.
That has led to a continuous process of collaboration – in the beta, authors were writing text and others were testing it out and giving feedback.
“You have a document which is living,” Nicolas added. “What we like with Liberio is that you don’t have to put your text into software and then process it and save your files somewhere and leave it there. Liberio is a tool to spread your ideas out in the world.”
Liberio is aimed at three types of author: the classic writer who wants to sell books, those who are interested in education and research, and those who are creating short and interactive texts. The first category is certainly promising, especially in the US, with some studies suggesting up to 31 percent of ebooks are self-published. It’s a culture that Nicolas hopes will extend to Germany: “From the German perspective, people still think that self-publishing is not as worthy as being published through a publishing house.”
Offering Something New
While there is plenty of competition in the form of Wattpad, Inkling, Smashwords and even InDesign, Nicolas is adamant that Liberio offers something new: “If you look at the process of just selecting a document, adding your data and title, clicking the push button and then already having it online and on a microsite, there is nobody else who is offering this.”
The company has so far been bootstrapped (thanks to some accommodating bosses, Nicolas has reduced his hours at the TSB to provide enough time to work on Liberio), although it is currently looking for funding. Nicolas has been responsible for the programming and Cat for the design, and they are planning to release more features in the next few months.
Liberio’s business model identifies three streams of income – on-platform purchases, specifically the ISBN numbers, which Nicolas said would be sold at a significant reduction on the €120 it usually costs in Germany, pro accounts which offer extra features for commercial users, and revenue shares with partners.
With 3,000 beta testers, Liberio attracted more than 1,000 usres in the first 24 hours after its public debut. And its founders certainly have big plans: “We see ourselves as an engine for the publishing market.”
It all makes for good reading for today’s army of amateur authors.