Paperjam article on BookMooch

September 30, 2006

Pjam

PaperJam, a magazine published of Luxembourg, has written a nice article about BookMooch


BookMooch for bookworms

Serial entrepreneur John Buckman was in Luxembourg in late September as one stop on his road show to promote his new venture, http://www.bookmooch.lu, a concept that he says breathes new life into old books.
Publié le 29.09.2006

BookMooch is a new community trading web site that operates on a point system and a wish list concept. You search for books you would like or create a wish list. You also add books you are willing to give away. The business model is the brainchild of American John Buckman, who is travelling through Europe to discuss his new business.

While one can almost hear the anxious cries of bookstore owners and authors everywhere, Buckman claims BookMooch, “helps to sell books and creates a new audience for authors.” Amazon, perhaps with an, “if you can’t beat them join them” attitude, has realised the potential of this business and has incorporated a BookMooch bar into their web site. You can also type in the isbn number of a book on BookMooch and find it on Amazon, and earn points off Amazon books.

Buckman believes there is a real “currency in the vast mine of books” in creating a virtual network of bookworms. How many booklovers around the world have hundreds of books in good condition piling up at home, and how many of these voracious readers want fresh books, recommended by fellow book lovers, at discount prices? It is not hard to imagine how, after four weeks of launching, over 70,000 books were already on the BookMooch roster.

To sweeten the concept, there is even a philanthropic connection to African charities so that books, often of good quality and acting as little more than dust collectors, can be distributed to the less fortunate.

It’s a two-sided coin as to how authors will feel about this. The big authors, the Stephen Kings for example, who make the most money are the ones (ironically) who are set to lose the most through a freeshare system, and thus, are the most likely to be upset. For newer authors, such a “word of mouth” distribution system may be just the thing to gain that all-important audience in the first place.

BookMooch is 100% programmed by Buckman, a serial entrepreneur with a technical background. His modus operandi is to start up a concept, but get out of the way, “once it becomes a real company.” The watermark for him is around 40 people.

Buckman is also CEO and founder of Magnatune, a music concept that is challenging the way to link up the Internet, musical lovers and music artists. Magnatune is not a free share, Buckman is quick to point out, and the concept is quite simple. They act as an Internet radio station but at the same time as a traditional record label. They have already signed 500 artists, who might not otherwise get enough exposure or radio play. The web site plays music free through Internet streaming and of a very high audio quality. If a listener likes the music, he/she can then pay to license it for advertising, films, business, etc with a percentage going to the artist.

Both Magnatune and BookMooch are business concepts that have arisen out of an entrepreneur’s desire to rise to the challenge of the Internet, rather than resist it. Until the grey area that encompasses the global regulation of rights and Intellectual property as distributed through the Internet is universally clarified, there is ample space for lucrative opportunities. But rest assured, until the benefits of these models can be suitably weighed versus the disadvantages for artists, rights holders and vendors, they will continue to be challenged by traditional thinkers who do not see people like Buckman as pioneers, but rather as usurpers.

Let the debate continue.

Mary Carey

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