This is Seung-yoon Lee, CEO and co-founder of Radish. I wanted to give feedback to you all directly regarding some of the questions and comments I've seen regarding Radish here so far.
First of all, let me just say thank you so much for your interest and feedback. We always value hearing what writers think about the app, positive or negative - ultimately, we created Radish to help writers produce more great stories, and so their opinions are always crucial .
I would be grateful if you can open up a separate thread for us and do a bit of AMA for Radish app, but for now I would just like to give you a context on why we are starting out this platform. We view that the transition from print book reading and e-book reading to smartphone reading is as game-changing as the transition from going to a movie cinema to watching TV. Already, last year alone e-book reader ownership was cut by half, and e-book sales has gone down 10%.
Whenever you move from one content delivery device to another, a new market is created. Let's take the video content. When you moved from movie cinema to TV, there were two markets. One market was about moving the already existing movie content to TV through video tapes, DVDs, and so on. However, the market for the most TV-optimised cotnent like TV dramas and TV shows were created and developed.
We believe that it's going to be the same for the reading market. The one market is going to be about transferring already existing e-book and physical book content to smartphones, which is going to be done by Amazon, Google, Apple, However, there is going to be a huge market for the most smartphone-optmised story content. We think that is going to be serials. Mobile and web serials are to print books and e-books as TV dramas and shows were to movies.
Specifically, our business has a freemium model fore serialised fiction based on bite-sized pieces suitable for 10 minutes on a smartphone. It is a modern take on the Victorian idea of the serialised model.
As a Korean native, I had the benefit of seeing how mobile serial market exploded with smartphone adoptions. China and Korea didn't really have Amazon and Kindles. About six or seven years ago, we jumped straight into smartphone reading while the west was moving to Kindle e-readers. We skipped the whole "Kindle" and "Nook" phase and went straight into smartphone reading. When people started reading on smartphones, the web serial market exploded. It was prefect for the smartphones. No one wanted to make the psychological and economic commitment of buying an "e-book". Also, each episode took 5 mins - 15 mins to read, so it was perfect while you are commuting or trying to kill time while you are waiting for something.
These web serial market had existed in Asia for the last 20 years, most notability in fantasy and fanfiction communities. However, smartphones basically brought about an explosive growth in the market. Also, made a viable business models for these web serial writers for the first time. (Obviously, some of these writers were making money through donation on their wordpress blogs and e-books. Somehow, getting picked up by traditional publishers.)
The business model around it is called the "freemium micropayment" business model. The Guardian ran a story as early as 2011. http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2011/nov/04/china-future-publishing
"But did you know that self-publishing websites are attracting more than 40% of all China's internet users every month? I didn't, and I am reeling, a little, from the statistic.
So The Guardian asks whether this micropayment freemium business model around web serial work can ever work in the west. In 2011, the answer was "no" at the time because no one is willing to read on smartphones then in the West. People only read on e-book readers or on print.
Abrahamsen isn't sure. "Chinese readers are unusually willing to read on mobile devices and other screens, and so the model works," he says. "For this model to work in the west, western readers would have to own devices that they'd be willing to read large quantities of text on. So far, cellphones and computer screens have not fit the bill. The proliferation of more comfortable readers might change that."
However, the game has changed because people are willing to read on smartphones now in the west.
The top authors in China make as much as 5 million dollars per year using this micropaymnet model and taking secondary income from their IPs. http://www.buchmesse.de/images/fbm/dokumente-ua-pdfs/2015/buchmarkt_china_2015_en_52061.pdf
In my home country, the top web serial authors make as much as 1 million dollars per year through this freemium "micropayment" model.
If you want to learn about the discussion around this model among western authors, please check out the following kboards discussion: http://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=228198.0
Few excerpts from there..
"Online literature made available via sites like Qidian tends to begin as serialised fiction thatreaders can access without any charge. Once a series becomes popular, it is converted into 'VIP content' and readers are required to pay to read the latest instalments. The price of online paid reading is extremely low by Western standards, as illustrated below, and revenue is split between authors and website operators."
"Shanda, launched in 2008, was innovative in a number of ways, not the least of which was enabling Chinese writers to freely publish online and monetize their work through micropayments from readers as well as rights and licensing deals. As of 2010, it commanded 71.5% of the Chinese reading market (according to Iresearch).
...Think of Qidian as similar Wattpad but one that generate vastly more revenue and authors are compensated for their writing....
Chinese web-writers are self publishers. The only middle man between the authors and the readers are the novel hosting sites. The authors own all the rights and some authors publish their works on multiple web novel hosting sites to gain more audience. Though some do go exclusive. Revenue is split between the novel hosting site and the author.
...'In fact, there are now so many web-writers in China (in the millions) that they are now "ranked," both by their earnings and number of fans.
On the lowest level is the ordinary writer, also "known as poor guy (or poor guy writer)." They have a limited number of fans, and their work is seldom recommended to others. Their annual income is around 1,000 yuan.
Next up are the Xiaoshen (low rank god) writers with a fan base of more than 100,000 and annual earnings of more than 100,000 yuan ($16,100). One step further up the ladder are the dashen (super god) class of writers with earnings of more than 1 million yuan ($161,200) with fans counted in the millions as well. At the very top of the tier are the 20-30 web writers known as platinum authors or zhigaoshen (the Supreme God) class of writers. The 2014 Chinese web-writers list ranks Tangjiasanshao first, with earnings of 50 million yuan (around $8.06 million) per year from royalties, while second and third on the list both raked in more than 25 million yuan ($4.03 million) each."
..."The ebook market in China evolve totally differently from the U.S./Europe. Instead of ebookstores, it's web novels. In addition, the young generation in China are now reading through web novels. When they publish, it is likely they will do it the same way."
Hopefully, this gives some context to what we are doing. Anyone can make their own blog and create a Paypal button. Even, they can open their own Patreon account and get funded that way.
However, it's a very desktop solution, and we are a mobile app business. We feel that the future of smartphone reading is going to be shaped by serial writers because their content make sense for smartphone screens. We will focus entirely on building a great mobile reading, consumption, micropayment and social experience within our app.
Please shoot me more questions - [email protected]
I am also happy to do an AMA as well.