Publishing's Hot App: A Tinder for Intellectual Property

Ashley Batz/Courtesy of Inkshares

Inkshares' new app, dubbed Properties, offers sample chapters and info on movie, TV, audiobook and foreign rights all with a few simple swipes.

Want a peek at the buzzy new sci-fi novel? Swipe right. Curious if its movie rights have sold? Swipe again. Publishing upstart Inkshares is launching an app, dubbed Properties, to promote its content to Hollywood. It curates selections for each user, offers sample chapters and provides updates on theatrical, TV, audiobook and foreign rights.

The app is part of the 2-year-old company's new vision for publishing, with multiplatform distribution goals baked in from the beginning. With Inkshares authors post a sample or pitch, and if the project gets 750 preorders, Inkshares publishes it, providing the editing, design and distribution services of a traditional publisher. Royalties (50 percent on print, 70 percent on digital) kick in after the first 750 sales. With 30 books already in print and another 110 in the pipeline, Inkshares has closed multiple rights deals, including ones for the medieval-set horror Abomination by Rogue One scribe Gary Whitta, Manu Saadia's wonky, fun pop culture tome Trekonomics, and Filip Syta's Silicon Valley novel The Show. "We're not out to overthrow publishing," says Thad Woodman, who co-founded the San Francisco-based startup with software developer Jeremy Thomas and lawyer Adam Gomolin. The latter says Inkshares, whose investors include rapper Nas, Chronicle Book CEO Nion McEvoy and book distributor Ingram (its closing another investment round that’s bringing in several new investors with Hollywood ties), occupies the "sweet spot between traditional and self-publishing." 

This story first appeared in the June 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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