That’s the question asked by an article in Publishing Perspectives.
COPENHAGEN: “I don’t think it’s immodest to say it, but I believe we’re the biggest e-book publisher in the world,” says Thomas Buus Madsen, co-founder and COO of Danish e-book publisher Bookboon. “To give just one reason why, over the last weekend in February we registered 970,000 downloads from Friday through Sunday, which was our single biggest weekend so far. In 2011, we had a total of 11 million downloads in all and there’s no reason for us not to hit 50 million by the end of 2012.”
The secret of Bookboon’s popularity: “All our books are free, of course.”
The son of a publishing family — his parents own Ventus Publishing, a respected Danish textbook and dictionary publisher — Madsen was inspired to start Bookboon after watching a fellow student at university take the one copy of a textbook for a particular class out of the school library, make 50 photocopies and start selling them in front of the classroom. “I’d spent my whole childhood packing physical books for my parents, but once I saw that, I knew textbook publishing didn’t have a long-term perspective.”
Working with his brother, Madsen launched the company in 2005, initially focusing providing academic textbooks and business books for the Danish market. The business model was simple: provide free e-books and pay for them by embedding advertising every three to five pages in the book. The two had previously worked on the launch of the free newspaper METRO in the Danish market and were confident it could work. Sales teams were established across Europe and managed to attract advertisers keen to reach students.