Book startup keeps the story going for readers

Posted at 12:16 AM, Apr 24, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-24 00:16:52-04

(CNN) A start-up company is working to bring our love of books, and the characters and locations in them, to life in a new way.

Finishing a really good book is both a high and a low - the story kept you riveted but it's over...and without a movie adaptation to watch, readers must wait for a sequel or move on to something else.

A new startup called Small Demons hopes to keep readers engaged letting them dig even deeper into the fictional world of their favorite books

"Small Demons is a visual index of all the people, places and things inside of books,” said Valla Vakili, the CEO of Small Demons.  “It's a way to go deeper into a book that you're interested in so like let's say you're reading High Fidelity, it has a lot of music in it - over 100 songs.”

“ We have every song listed in the book all in one place so you can go through and find the soundtrack to the book, or you're reading a book that takes place in New York and it mentions lots of locations in New York and you want to go piece-by-piece and look at those places. We catalog all of those as well. “

It’s not just the songs or places mentioned either - just about anything can be tracked on the site - people, movies, television shows, even other books.

This can hold appeal for publishers who wish to retain readers' attention in the age of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.  Small Demons currently has 2,500 books on its site - mostly bestsellers and classics. Three of the six biggest publishers - Random House, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster have all signed on as partners.
"For them, it's an exciting way to promote books, to make books much more discoverable,” said Vakili.

“When you think of Borders closing down and bookstores folding up and the loss of shelf space, any new way that you can promote books and make them easy to find is exciting."

Small Demons is currently using link referral programs to earn some revenue. So, if you go to buy a book from Amazon, via their site, they get a small percentage of the sale. They do have some unique ideas in place to start utilizing the data they have collected.

"One thing we're looking at is a coaster line where we pull out references to bars in books, references to drinks in books, and it's a way if you're at a bar and you're drinking a drink and that same bar is mentioned in a book somewhere or that drink is very popular in a book somewhere and making that connection between fiction and the real world is much more immediate, much more present,” said Vakili.

Whether that type of connection will lead to profits remains to be seen. The site is still in beta, with plans for an official launch in May.

Right now it requires a little bit of work to interact with the content. For example, there are no pre-built Spotify playlists for books with lots of music like High Fidelity. And for now, most of the places listed are just states, cities, and neighborhoods - so don't expect to use it to plan a road trip around all the sites mentioned in Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

However, Vakili said features like this are in the works.

"We do have mobile things in store for later this year around very location oriented, obviously.”

“But our first focus is on the site and getting content scaled on the site and then building out a contribution system on the site,” said Vakili.
Reporting by Matt Stewart, CNN