But authors—arguably the original creators of the creator economy—have lacked a social media platform designed to help them reach readers, contends Allison Trowbridge, founder and CEO of social media app Copper Books. Trowbridge, an author herself, aims to fill that void with the app, which just launched this week with the goal of creating an online community connecting writers and their readers.
“Authors are micro-entrepreneurs spending years of their lives developing a product—this book—which they then need to launch to an audience,” Trowbridge told dot.LA. “There was nothing to really support that process.”
West Hollywood-based Copper, which went live on Apple devices Thursday, lets authors host live online events like book readings and chat with fans in forum discussions. Readers can discover books and share what they're reading with friends using “bookshelves” on their Copper profile pages.
“Books are a word-of-mouth industry,” Trowbridge said. “We want this to be the easiest place to find those meaningful recommendations from authors and readers that you admire, trust and have shared interests with.”
Copper isn’t the first company to try to socialize the book-reading experience online. One of the better-known is Goodreads, an Amazon-owned website where users can craft reading lists and write book reviews. But Trowbridge notes that, unlike Copper, Goodreads is solely focused on the reader and doesn’t bring the author into the equation.
As of last week, Copper had a waitlist of around 6,500 potential users, including 3,000 published authors, according to Trowbridge. Some of those are would-be Android users who can’t join the app yet, though Copper plans to launch on Android in the coming months.
The nine-employee startup raised $2.5 million last year in a pre-seed round led by San Francisco-based venture capital firm Wave Capital. Other investors include early Twitter employee Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Paypal CEO Dan Schulman and Fran Hauser, the former head of digital at Time Inc., who now sits on Copper’s board. Popular science writer Adam Grant is also an investor, advisor and user of the app.
Copper is free for fans and authors, though the company plans to eventually roll out a premium version with additional features for paying members. Down the line, Trowbridge said she could foresee publishers paying Copper to promote their books through the app. For now, the startup is focused on building the user base, she said.
“It's such a hard industry to break into, especially if you're an aspiring author,” Trowbridge noted. “I wanted to create a place where if you have a dream of writing a book, this is where you can meet, build your community, find your agent [and] get encouragement and advice.”
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