Recent college graduates Michael Salvador and Simon Bruno are attempting to compete in the field of mobile apps for book readers. The duo's app, Inky (iOS, Android pending), centers around recommendations on what to read next. Think of it as a social media collective offering up titles based on genre preference.
You need Facebook or email to create an Inky account. The app lets you pick three of your favorite book genres next--perhaps with future updates there will be more updates to pick from. Inky offers eight standard accounts to follow and then you can pick accounts to follow organized under different genres.
"Our goal is to become the go-to place for trusted book recommendations," Bruno told Download.com. "Here's an extreme example to illustrate the point; consider if Stephen King recommended a book and said, 'this book has had a bigger influence on my writing than any other. It is a must-read.' An aspiring fiction writer would probably be thrilled, Inky is a place to find this particular kind of trusted recommendation."
User profiles are set up like Instagram with a bookshelf. Other users can follow you, and you can follow them, as everyone fills their bookshelves with thumbnail images of books they recommend or want to read. The book images can be tapped to reveal a summary.
While the developers aren't looking to monetize Inky just yet, they're looking for user feedback.
"The goal is to partner with publishing houses to help launch new titles, similar to Goodreads' business model. Once we're confident we have something people absolutely love, we'll turn our heads towards monetization," Bruno told TechCrunch.
But what if the feedback is that Inky is a patchwork quilt of other reading apps?
Inky harkens to apps like Litsy (iOS, Android), Reco (iOS, Android pending), and To Read (iOS, Android). The app is, of course, just get started and so it needs time to set itself apart from the crowd.
For now, Inky is betting on creating a social network of readers sharing their current book list to help other book lovers find their next read. The app is off to a good start with 4.6 out of 5 stars on the iOS App Store with users giving feedback and the developers taking note.
Going up against other well-established apps like Goodreads won't be easy, especially since Goodreads was bought by Amazon five years ago. Independent creatives of any kind face a David-versus-Goliath scenario when trying to compete.
While trying to remain unique and independent, Inky lacks major financial backing that larger corporations could provide. But turning to those larger corporations could mean sacrificing its initial ethos and doing the same things everyone else does to succeed. Ironically, that's a similar dynamic to the book publishing world.
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- The Inky app wants to find users the best book recommendations on what to read next by helping build a community of like-minded readers.
- The app has competition with several other reading apps but is focused on building its app around user feedback.
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