Ebooks startup Zola hires two publishing vets

Zola Social Reader

Zola Books, a startup social ebook retailer that will let authors and publisher sell titles directly when it launches publicly this fall, has hired Seale Ballenger, formerly at HarperCollins, and Mary Ann Naples, formerly at OpenSky.

Ballenger joins Zola as head of marketing and publicity. He was VP and group publicity director at HarperCollins.

Naples joins as chief of business development. She will be in charge of forming exclusive ebook partnerships with authors. Naples was VP of business development at online retailer OpenSky, and before that cofounded boutique literary agency The Creative Culture.

Zola was cofounded last year by literary agent Joe Regal and former Sothebys.com digital manager Michael Strong and has raised $1 million in seed funding. The platform launched in beta at BookExpo America in June, but can’t start selling books until the Department of Justice’s settlement with HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette has gone through. When it does launch, the company plans to sell ebooks from all publishers and will offer a social reading app and a curation engine for reading recommendations.

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