While there’s lots of coverage to the impact of electronic distribution to the world of mainstream book publishing, Bookboon has been quietly transforming the world of textbook publishing. Bookboon uses a self-developed API to deliver their electronic books to Facebook users via their custom Facebook app. Additionally, they use the same API to make their titles available to partner bookstores, allowing resellers to integrate the Bookboon product line into a general catalog of available titles.
Bookboon began as a spin-off of Danish publisher Ventus, and has always been focused on the educational market. Since 2005 their advertising-based model has delivered textbooks for free while delivering highly targeted paid messages with them.
“We use iText to automatically insert the right advertisements into our PDF books on the fly. This is based on the questions that users answer as part of the downloading process. For each branch in this answer tree, there is a list of adverts that are to go into the given book, and this is done automatically and instantly,” says Bookboon’s Sophie Tergeist.
While Bookboon is located in London (with offices throughout northern and central Europe), their API has been used by passthenotes.com in Texas and akademika.no, a norwegian univeristy bookstore, among others.
Bookboon also tracks geolocation and subject area details resulting in a microsegmentation of well over 10,000 combinations which enables a robust ad targeting capability.
Reuters reported that Bookboon grew by a staggering 500% over nine months in 2011 and is predicted to reach a market share of over 10% in the USA in 2012. With this level of penetration we can expect to see increasing pressure on the current distribution model in the U.S.