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Everybody who works on ReaderBound has been in and around publishing for a long time. We’ve worked in publishing houses and also consulted with publishers, funding agencies, and industry associations.

We’ve launched major book projects, advised editorial teams, set up new distribution schemes, and secured sponsorships and partnerships of all sorts. We’ve also built a lot of websites for publishers, including sites for individual publishing houses as well as some major national platforms that have come to play an important role in book marketing.

From time to time, publishers approach us to build new websites for them. And some of us also occasionally sit on juries with funding agencies where we see a bunch of web redesign proposals competing for grant funding. And we were struck by something across all of these conversations: in each case, the publishing house was planning to cook its new website completely from scratch. They had all arrived at different ways to approach the problem, and wanted to use this or that content management system or one e-commerce system or another. In some cases, we would even see examples where somebody was starting over, yet again, to build a site on a particular system where we knew that another publishing house down the road had already done something very similar using the same tools.

Keep in mind that building a new website from scratch — and getting it all set up to sell books properly and then loading in an entire catalogue of books — is one hell of a piece of work. A well-functioning website is a must for every publishing house today, but we were still astonished at how much effort and money firms were spending to get a new site built and launched. We were even more surprised when we realized that firms were putting in all of that work, and spending all of that money, to produce websites that, at the end of the day, were very, very similar to one another.

There’s a good reason for this. Everybody wants their website to look and feel a bit different and to accommodate any special requirements or ideas that the publishing house might have. But at the end of the day, most publishers have a very similar set of functional requirements — that is, they need certain types of pages and features in place and each firm needs its website to do a similar set of things.

And so a couple of years ago, we all looked at each other and said, “There must be a better way to do this.” We sat with that question and a blank piece of paper for a while, and we tried to come up with that better way — a way to build a really great website for a publishing house that would take a lot less money and a lot less time.

ReaderBound is our answer. We poured everything we’ve learned about publishers’ websites, online book marketing, reader engagement, and book discovery into a system that can be used to produce really powerful websites for publishers at a fraction of the time and expense of building from scratch.

We’ve built in a lot of flexibility and every site is customized. Each one looks a bit different from the next; each has different features and components in place; and each lives on its own dedicated server.

However, the ReaderBound team manages and maintains that server, and makes sure that it is secure, fully backed up, and protected from catastrophic failures or attacks. The team also maintains the code base that the system runs on, including any ongoing maintenance or system updates. From time to time, we introduce new versions of ReaderBound, and all publishers get to share in the additional features, performance upgrades, or other improvements that roll in with each new release.

We think this is the best of both worlds in that each firm gets its own website, and can really make it their own and have complete control over its operation. But each ReaderBound client is also part of a larger community of publishers using the system and gets to benefit from the shared development and improvement of the application over time.

It feels like we’re a long way from that blank piece of paper we started with in 2014. We’re excited to show you ReaderBound, and the first client sites will be released in September 2016. Drop us a line if you’d like to know when they are launched or if you want to take a closer look at what’s under the hood in the meantime.