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. . .And then there were seven eight

Molly Flatt introduces the book tech companies which will pitch to a prestigious panel in a new strand of the FutureBook Conference

from Cologne on a mission to revolutionise storytelling for mobile. A Manchester-born app employing behavioural science and gaming mechanics to take writers from the big idea to the final draft. A Canadian production company crowdfunding a series of interactive children’s books that dissolve the bounda- ries between digital and the real world. Te Owl Field, oolipo, Write Track and Together Tales


represent just half of the shortlist for this year’s inaugural BookTech Award, and their range and ambition is both reas- suring and energising in a climate where complaints that the publishing industry is failing to innovate are as common as bitter Amazon takedowns. In fact, we found it so hard to whittle down 31 submissions

to seven finalists that we ended up with eight. Completing the showcase are: Ooovre, a platform designed to make it easy for readers to buy from local booksellers; Reedsy, a budding marketplace for publishing professionals; Gojimo, an exam- quiz app that has already become the UK’s most popular revi- sion tools; and Shulph, an “omnichannel reading experience company” that promises to have (finally) found an elegant solution to bundling e-books and print.

A BROAD CHURCH As we explained when launching the award, the term “book tech” invites seriously broad interpretation, so the judging criteria were always going to be eclectic. As a result, some submissions, such as Te Owl Field and oolipo, won a place in the shortlist for their exciting original technology, while others (Reedsy and Shulph) impressed by applying existing tech to a lingering problem or opportunity in a new way. In turn, Write Track and Gojimo demonstrate an admirable talent for tailoring tech to the behaviours of a particular audi-

scottish start-up using binaural recording, 3d audio software and immersive sound design to redefine the audiobook. A team of seasoned digital entrepreneurs

ence, while Ooovre and Together Tales perhaps presage the future by blurring the divide between our digital and physical worlds. Traits that they all share, however, are freshness in their

creativity, clarity in their vision and sophistication in their approach. Perhaps the most exciting attribute of compiling the BookTech shortlist was the number of entrants we had never heard of before. Some, like Reedsy and Gojimo, are already starting to make waves, but the majority are in early funding or even pre-funding stage, and have yet to hit the public radar. Considering that the long-term aim for BookTech is to give publishing professionals a head-start on disruption coming their way—while also hopefully inspiring them to take some bold imaginative leaps of their own—it represents an encouraging start.

FEVER PITCH Whether any of our finalists will fulfil their promise, of course, is another story. Tat is why we will subject them to a vigorous grilling at the FutureBook Conference, with questions coming from a prestigious panel of experts—Unbound c.e.o. and co-founder Dan Kieran; group director of consumer and digital development at Penguin Random House UK, Hannah Telfer; and one of London’s most influential tech venture capital- ists, Eileen Burbidge—as well as our assembled industry audience. Te eventual winner will have to demonstrate commercial nous and a viable plan for growth, not just a crowd-pleasing concept. In the meantime, we have already begun

The BookTech Showcase

(#BookTech) is a new element of the FutureBook

Conference. Hosted by tech and culture journalist Molly Flatt, the session invites eight book tech

companies to take

part in a live pitch-off to a panel of industry and tech experts. A

live judging process will determine

the winners of the bronze, silver and gold FutureBook

Awards. The overall winner will be named The FutureBook

BookTech Company of the Year 2015.

running a weekly series of interviews with the finalists on So keep an eye out for the articles and tweet us your thoughts using the #BookTech hashtag. ×

Gojimo is a free

revision app that provides users with GCSE and

A-Level revision content, as

well as SAT, 13+

oolipo “reimagines fiction for digital”, founder Ryan

Common Entrance and 11+ Common exam help.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ooovre is a

David Mullins says. “We’re creating a new kind of

platform that will give [users] an

experience native to their device.”


click-and-collect service that lets readers order books online

from their local booksellers.

Reedsy helps authors find and

collaborate with a refined selection of handpicked freelance


Shulph synchs users’ physical and digital bookshelves, in the hope that they will never again have to choose

between a print or a digital copy of a book.

The Owl Field’s 3D audio dramas place users at the center of the story in an immersive, virtual world.

around children; users can help create treasure hunts, digital clues and true-to-life

coincidences that bring the story to life.

Together Tales builds stories

Write Track helps people develop a writing habit using productivity tools, goal-setting and tracking technologies to reward


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