The problem that Ganxy solves should be a simple one: How can authors and publishers market and sell books directly online from one central hub? But this question hasn’t had a simple answer until now — partly because of the many ebook retailers out there, and partly because many publishers still don’t understand direct marketing.
New York-based startup Ganxy provides an easy solution. The company, which was founded in 2009 and is officially launching today at the Frankfurt Book Fair, gives authors and publishers a straightforward toolset to let them sell books and control marketing and promotions. In just a few minutes, anyone can create a “showcase” for a book that includes its cover, description, video and other marketing materials, and purchase options. Authors and publishers can sell books directly through the showcase or simply provide links to retailers. The entire showcase can then be tweeted, embedded in a blog, website or Facebook page, or can just stand alone as a website.
Ganxy also allows authors and publishers to track where their sales are coming from. “People have had no idea what’s working,” cofounder and biz dev lead Joshua Cohen told me. With Ganxy, they know if a book was purchased by someone who clicked on their showcase from Facebook, for example, versus from a tweet. Users can also add an email capture field to a showcase, allowing them to connect directly with readers who are interested in their books.
It’s free to create a showcase, but Ganxy makes money in two ways. The company takes 10 percent of each sale when an ebook is sold through a showcase (authors and publishers can choose whether they want to sell ebooks directly). Ganxy also makes money through the affiliate links to retail sites that are embedded in the showcase. An author can also request to use his or her own affiliate links in the showcase; in that case, Ganxy displays its affiliate link 25 percent of the time and the author’s 75 percent of the time.
Ganxy also wants to appeal to readers. When someone buys an ebook directly through a Ganxy showcase, it’s added to his or her library and can be downloaded in any format (EPUB, iOS, Kindle and so on). All the ebooks Ganxy sells directly are DRM-free. (Publishers who don’t like that can just display retail links and not sell ebooks directly.)
So far, a few clients are using Ganxy in beta: Diversion Books (the publisher of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the Washington Post ebooks, among others), romance author Barbara Freethy (who’s achieved huge success self-publishing her out-of-print titles as ebooks) and author and Cracked columnist Robert Brockway. The site is now opening to everyone and will accept new users in waves.
Ganxy is entirely self-funded. The company’s president is Aleks Jakulin, who previously taught data mining at Columbia and is an expert in artificial intelligence. (The European Coordinating Committee for Artificial Intelligence named his PhD research the best artificial intelligence dissertation in Europe in 2005.) Cofounder Cohen previously cofounded the German video identification company iPharro Media and worked at Merrill Lynch, Random House and MTV.
I asked Cohen if and when the company plans to expand Ganxy to include other forms of digital content. For now, he said, the primary focus is books, with the direct sales functionality focused heavily on ebooks. (In an earlier version, Ganxy focused on direct music sales, and those are still available.) But as a promotional tool, Cohen says, Ganxy’s showcases could be used for any type of digital content.