Who are Leanpub's competitors?

published May 03, 2012

Hyperink ($1.2mm in funding from A16Z, etc) vs. Leanpub

Recently an author asked us whether we saw ourselves as competitive with Hyperink.

And yesterday, to our pleasant surprise, Kevin Gao, the CEO of Hyperink, was quoted in Forbes as saying his biggest competitors included Leanpub:

“Still, Gao thinks his closest rivals are Leanpub, Amazon.com itself, and ultimately the Big Six book publishers.”

This is because Hyperink just launched a service where they do what Leanpub lets you do, but they take half the money. (In comparison, Leanpub pays a 90% minus 50 cents royalty per sale.)

This is a huge feather in our cap, since Leanpub is bootstrapped and Hyperink has raised $1.2 million dollars from Andreessen Horowitz and other firms. So, clearly we have some traction and mindshare.

(As an aside, both Ben Horowitz’s blog and Marc Andreessen’s old blog would have been fantastic Leanpub books! I assume they’ll be great Hyperink books one day.)

Now, the question is, do we consider Hyperink to be one of our primary competitors? And, more broadly, who do we consider to be Leanpub’s primary competitors?

Is Hyperink a Leanpub competitor?

Well, their blog-to-book service certainly seems to compete with Leanpub! This is a good thing, but it’s only partially true.

They are focusing on doing the curating and editing of your blog posts, along with design work. We empower bloggers and writers to do this themselves and keep way more of the book revenue. (Leanpub: 90% minus 50 cents royalty; Hyperink: 50% royalty.)

More generally, Leanpub is much more than just blog-to-book workflow. This is why we compete with their blog-to-book service, but they only compete with a subset of what Leanpub does.

Leanpub is “self-published in-progress ebooks”. We’re a free, simple writing workflow funded by an optional store.

We’re building the best way in the world to write, self-publish and sell an in-progress ebook.

An optional blog import is just the starting point. The real key is our workflow:

  1. Write in Markdown.
  2. Sync with Dropbox.
  3. Click a button on the Leanpub website.

That’s all it takes to preview or publish an ebook in PDF, EPUB (for iPads, etc) and MOBI (for Kindle). Yes, it is that easy.

Leanpub is not just a writing tool; we are also a means to sell a book: just set your price and click publish.

Hyperink seems to also be involved in providing design, layout, content advice, even writing help. That may be a good business, but it’s not our business. We want to be the best way in the world for an author to write and self-publish an in-progress ebook with no help from anyone.

With the exception of some occasional special projects (recently, the Uncensored project), we are not in the business of working to make the author’s book for them. We provide the ability to automatically import a blog RSS feed with one click, but the author is supposed to be the person doing the editing, curation, etc. We want to ensure that this process is as smooth as possible for authors to do themselves.

So, who are Leanpub’s primary competitors?

  1. DIY approach with a generic digital storefront (E-junkie, Gumroad, etc) - you would create the PDF, EPUB and MOBI files yourself.

  2. Print book self-publishing companies adding ebooks (Lulu, etc) - we’re not in the print book business, but these places are now in the ebook business.

  3. Amazon and Apple - these will obviously dominate the market for selling finished ebooks; we’re trying to resegment it and win the market for in-progress ebooks

  4. Other ebook startups (BookBaby, Hyperink, etc) - these are all focused on selling finished ebooks, and they seem to do more work for you than Leanpub. Yes, we do provide a premium feature where we export to Amazon and Apple for the author, but that’s just a bonus feature at the end of the Leanpub writing process once the book is done. Authors are free to just do that themselves; it’s not our core business model.

What’s next?

Leanpub exists to be the best way in the world to write, self-publish and sell an in-progress ebook. We call this process Lean Publishing. Everything we do is focused on that goal.

With that in mind, stay tuned for the next big Leanpub feature, which will make selling your Leanpub books even more effective…

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