eBay has long been known as the defacto marketplace for buying and selling physical goods. But today the marketplace giant is making an interesting move into digital goods, launching a dedicated marketplace for digital comics. Via a limited beta test in the U.S., the marketplace allows you to purchase and read digital comics, in the same way you would via the App Store or through Amazon.
Previously, eBay allowed some digital items to be sold by merchants but it’s limited. Now eBay is actually taking a part in the curation and selling of content.
We’re told eBay is partnering with comiXology, an online marketplace for digital comics, to power the purchasing and reading experience. Via the new eBay Digital Comics marketplace you can browse and view collections by character. When you click on a comic book of interest, you are taken to the comic book’s page on the comiXology site. Purchasers will need to create a comiXology account or log in with an existing account to complete the purchase.
You need to buy on the desktop experience but you can access and read comics on a phone or tablet, we’re told. By next year, we hear that eBay will be launching a similar test in Europe. Obviously extending eBay’s presence in digital goods could even expand to other verticals like movies, books and more verticals are likely, we hear.
The company seems to be testing a number of out-of-the-box ideas over the past few months. This latest initiative is part of the eBay Innovations Group, which is also responsible for the company’s new Angie’s List-competitor, and its connected glass in physical storefronts.
A simple link. That’s all it took to unleash a hailstorm of angry emails, messages, tweets, and comments. Why? I dared wonder if libraries will continue to exist in the future.
Last Monday, I linked to this piece by Art Brodsky for Wired from my blog. In it, he argues that beyond the recent hoopla around e-book pricing, the real problem with e-books is what they’re doing to libraries. That is, killing them.
As Brodsky notes:
Imagine walking into a library or bookstore and needing three or four pairs of different glasses to read different books manufactured to specific viewing equipment. Or buying a book and then having to arbitrarily destroy it after say, two weeks. That’s just nuts. But it’s the current situation we’re in with ebooks.
He’s referring to the fact that Amazon, Apple, Google, and others now have their own e-book stores which sell goods which only work on certain devices or within certain applications.
Also, while the economics of e-books at a library should theoretically be better (since there is no more physical product, and any replacements or new copies are just a download away), they’re actually far worse:
Take the example of J.K. Rowling’s pseudonymous book, Cuckoo’s Calling. For the physical book, libraries would pay $14.40 from book distributor Baker & Taylor — close to the consumer price of $15.49 from Barnes & Noble and of $15.19 from Amazon. But even though the ebook will cost consumers $6.50 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, libraries would pay $78 (through library ebook distributors Overdrive and 3M) for the same thing. Somehow the “e” in ebooks changes the pricing game, and drastically. How else does one explain libraries paying a $0.79 to $1.09 difference for a physical book to paying a difference of $71.50 just because it’s the electronic version? It’s not like being digital makes a difference for when and how they can lend it out.
And so, with these things in mind, it’s hard not to imagine a future where the majority of libraries cease to exist — at least as we currently know them. Not only are they being rendered obsolete in a digital world, the economics make even less sense. One can easily envision libraries making their way to the forefront of any budget cut discussions.
I know this sucks. Libraries have been an invaluable part of human history, propagating our culture and knowledge over centuries. But recognizing the changing times and pointing out the obvious shouldn’t be considered blasphemy. It is what it is.
The internet has replaced the importance of libraries as a repository for knowledge. And digital distribution has replaced the role of a library as a central hub for obtaining the containers of such knowledge: books. And digital bits have replaced the need to cut down trees to make paper and waste ink to create those books. This is evolution, not devolution.
It’s hard for me to even remember the last time I was in a library. I was definitely in one this past summer in Europe — on a historical tour. Before that, I think it was when I was in college. But even then, ten years ago, the internet was replacing the need to go to a library. And now, with e-books, I’m guessing the main reason to go to a library on a college campus is simply because it’s a quiet place to study.
I do recall the last several times I went to a library in high school — it was to borrow some CDs. (Which may or may not have been subsequently ripped onto a computer…)
The point is, times have changed. And things continue to change with increasing speed. So where does that leave libraries?
Undoubtedly, some of the largest, most prestigious libraries will live on. But the people lurking in them may increasingly look like Gandalf in the bowels of Minas Tirith looking through the scrolls of Isildur.
Meanwhile, some other spaces currently known as libraries may live on as cultural and/or learning centers. Others like the notion of using libraries as some sort of newfangled technology demo pits. Tablets over here! 3D printers over here! One article even likened them to Apple Stores.
There is also the notion of libraries shifting their focus to go further up the stack, as it were, to help content creators earn a better living from their writing. Eli Neiburger of the Ann Arbor District Library has written extensively about this. (Multiple people dismayed by my original link, pointed me to Neiburger’s thoughts.)
But even Neiburger admits that this is likely only a possibility for niche and/or independent writers. The big name publishers and big ticket books are never going to go for this. And again, this may mean a future where libraries have less of a focus on actual books.
All of these prospects for the future of libraries sound nice on paper (figuratively, not literally, of course). But I’m also worried that some of us are kidding ourselves. These theoretical places are not libraries in the ways that any of us currently think of libraries.
That’s the thing: it seems that nearly everyone is actually in agreement that libraries, as we currently know them, are going away. But no one wants to admit it because calling for the end of libraries seems about as popular as the Dewey Decimal System.
It’s almost like some people want to interpret anyone talking about the end of libraries as talking about the end of learning — and, by extension, the end of civilization. The reality is that learning has evolved. It’s now easier than ever to look something up. And the connected world has far better access to basically infinitely more information than can be found in even the largest library — or all of them combined. This is all a good thing. A very good thing. Maybe the best thing in the history of our civilization. Yet we retain this romantic notion of libraries as cultural touchstones. Without them, we’re worried we’ll be lost and everything will fall apart.
So we’re coming up with all these other ways to try to keep these buildings open. Co-working spaces! Media labs. Art galleries? We’ll see. But it’s impossible to see a world where we keep libraries open simply to pretend they still serve a purpose for which they no longer serve.
I’m sorry I have to be the one to write this. I have nothing but fond memories of libraries from my youth. Of course, I also have fond memories of bookstores. And we all know how that has turned out…
[image: New Line Cinemas]
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Evernote, the popular note-taking app with 75 million users, today unveiled the latest chapter in its bid to become the go-to place for people to store all their memories — a decisive move into physical merchandise.
It’s entering a partnership with 3M and its Post-it note brand to develop a special line of notepads and a camera to take notes, record them, and then seamlessly transfer them into Evernote’s platform. That news was actually leaked last night, but today Evernote went one step further, announcing that these products and more will now be sold through a special online shop, called Evernote Market. (The company says the market will also be available in its desktop and mobile apps.)
The announcement is being made on-stage at Evernote’s EC3 conference in San Francisco. CEO Phil Libin said that it might seem “weird” for the company to get into physical products, but he noted that the company teamed up with Moleskine last year to create a special notebook with features to make it easier to digitize notes in Moleskine’s pretty leather notebooks.
“Paperless is not the goal — great experience is not the goal.” Libin said, later adding, “We want to eliminate the stupid uses of paper, but we want to extend the great uses.”
Other products that will be new to the market in addition to the Post-it products are devices from ScanSnap and Adonit.
ScanSnap’s Evernote Edition, the company says, is the result of a collaboration with ScanSnap “to marry hardware speed and precision with Evernote’s organization and sync features.” It says it will be the most advanced scanner-to-service integration on the market.
Meanwhile, the Jot Script Evernote Edition Stylus from Adonit is “the first and only fine point stylus on the market, and optimized to work with Penultimate, Evernote’s award winning handwriting application.”
And Evernote is also unveiling a line of lifestyle products that don’t really have a strong tech angle but are customized with company branding. Those include the Evernote Rucksack and Evernote Flat Pack from Côte&Ciel. And there are socks! It’s a real soup-to-nuts approach.
Think of what Evernote is doing as the enterprise-y version of the same strategy that has been embodied by consumer brands like Disney and Rovio’s Angry Birds. Or even the same concept of vertical integration embodied by companies like Apple. The idea is that physical products not only extend the brand of the bigger company. But it will also give users more ways of tapping into Evernote and making it more used, and useful.
Judging by the fact that Rovio itself projects to make more revenue from merchandising than it does from its actual games — and Apple, of course, makes vastly more profit from its hardware than it does its services — this could end up being a smart move for Evernote. To date, the company’s biggest revenue streams come from people who pay for its premium apps. This gives the company a more diversified monetization strategy longer term.
Evernote VP of Product Jeff Zwerner said that as the company looks at physical integrations, it follows five broad principles — giving physical products a digital future, balancing life and work, bringing “global finds” to users, incrementally improving essential products, and designing software and hardware together.
“That’s right, we’re a fashion brand now,” Libin said. “No one saw that coming.”
Update: After the keynote, we asked Libin if, given today’s dramatic expansion of the Evernote brand, there are things that the company definitely won’t do. He replied that he’s committed to monetizing “directly,” not “indirectly,” which means that Evernote won’t run advertising. (Libin described the agreements behind the products in the Evernote Market are straightforward revenue sharing: “We have a very non-creative approach to deals.”)
He also said that Evernote will remain an “introspective” company by not delving too deeply into social features — it will be making some business collaboration announcements tomorrow, but they’re supposed to “make your interactions as efficient as possible so that you can just get on with being productive.”
The broad vision for these kinds of partnerships, Libin added, is to turn Evernote into the “Nike of the mind” — namely, the big brand name that consumers associated with the mind.
When asked about how he’s looking at a potential IPO, he emphasized that he sees it as a “refueling” stop for the company, not an end in an of itself Libin said, “Yes, I think we should go public, but that’s not the goal. … It will be years in the future.”
I also spoke to Moleskine CEO Arrigo Berni, who cited the Evernote partnership as an example of how things aren’t just “digital digital digital” and “paper paper paper.” Instead, he said there’s a continuum between the two. The partnership has already generated a business that has 4.5 million euros in retail value, and that’s with only few types of notebooks (as noted above, there are varieties in the works). Berni said Moleskine is now pursuing other partnerships to move into the digital world, such as its collaboration with FiftyThree, the makers of the Paper app.
Evernote allows users to capture, organize, and find information across multiple platforms. Users can take notes, clip webpages, snap photos using their mobile phones, create to-dos, and record audio. All data is synchronized with the Evernote web service and made available to clients on Windows, Mac, Web, and mobile devices. Additionally, the Evernote web service performs image recognition on all incoming notes, making printed or handwritten text found within images searchable.
E-commerce giant eBay today made its latest moves to blur the lines between online and offline commerce, and it’s chosen the UK to do it: it launched a new “Click & Collect” service, where shoppers can buy goods from eBay online and then select a physical retail location in the UK where they can be delivered. On top of this, eBay said it will be bringing its same-day delivery option, eBay Now, to the UK, marking the its first push outside of the U.S. for the service.
“I’m pleased to share that our eBay Now service is coming to Europe, starting with London next year,” eBay president Devin Wenig announced in a presentation in London today.
This is eBay’s first commercial trial for Click & Collect, and it will be UK-only for now. eBay has been working on it for about a year already, and it will operate on two levels: for large retailers who have physical stores and also sell on eBay, they can now give users the option to pick up goods in those stores instead of having them delivered. For smaller eBay merchants, eBay has struck a deal with the Argos chain of stores for home goods for users to get their ordered goods delivered there.
The Argos deal will cover, at first, 150 UK stores and some 50 eBay merchants, Wenig said. The idea is that this will give consumers who do not want to buy certain items with delayed delivery more convenience in getting those goods more instantly, coupling that with the physical retail shopping they’re going to do anyway.
Meanwhile, it makes sense for eBay to expand eBay Now to international markets, which make up some 64% of the company’s total revenues in its marketplace division.
Up to today, eBay Now has been growing only in the U.S., first opening for business in San Francisco in August 2012. It now works in a few other cities, including Chicago, Dallas, and the wider New York and Bay Area regions. And eBay has also expanded eBay Now from a mobile-only product to one that also can be used on the desktop.
While eBay Now is a competitor against the likes of Amazon Prime and (to a lesser extent) Google Shopping Express, Click & Collect is more akin (but not the same as) the delivery locker services that these rivals have rolled out. Amazon Locker is live in the UK, while Google has yet to extend its BufferBox-fuelled service outside of the U.S. and Canada. Another UK competitor that works across more than just those walled gardens is My ByBox.
While different locker services give consumer the convenience of being able to get deliveries of online goods to secure locations without having to be around to sign for them, Click & Collect is attempting to do something more: it’s trying to get those consumers specifically into retail locations, where they may potentially do more shopping.
“This new way to shop — with different online merchants and collection at convenient locations — could create immense opportunities for sellers,” said Wenig today.
With Click & Collect, what’s not clear is whether those merchants are also working with Argos for the actual fulfilment of those orders. (In other words, if you buy a blender with an eBay merchant, does that merchant then ship the blender to Argos, or is it deducted from inventory at that Argos location? We’re reaching out to ask.)
The move is an interesting one both for eBay and for the physical stores with which it will partner.
For eBay, it brings the company closer to where most people are still spending the vast majority of their money. For example, stats out from the U.S. Census Bureau in August note that in Q2 of this year $64.8 billion was spent in e-commerce. But total retail sales were $1,126.2 billion. In other words, only 5.75% of retail sales in the U.S., one of the bigger e-commerce markets, are online.
But for brick-and-mortar retailers, the longer-term writing is on the wall. Online continues to grow faster than offline (5% versus 1%, says the USCB), and at a time when many physical retailers are seeing stagnant growth or even declines in sales, it’s important for brick-and-mortar companies to continue embracing avenues like the Internet to connect with users. You could argue that is was also part of the logic behind why another UK retailer, Tesco, yesterday announced its first tablet product, Hudl.
This is, by far, not eBay’s first move to connect better with the high street. PayPal’s here mobile payment solution puts eBay right at the point of sale for transactions with smaller merchants. And eBay has also created a touchscreen store window for Kate Spade Saturday to browse items, and check-in and QR Code services to quickly check for and buy items online.
I’m speaking directly to Wenig shortly and will update this story with more after that.
September 1, 1995
February 10, 1998, NASDAQ:EBAY
Founded in 1995 in San Jose, CA, eBay connects millions of buyers and sellers globally in the world’s largest online marketplace, utilizing PayPal to ensure secure transactions. The company also operates specialized marketplaces such as StubHub, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, and eBay Classifieds sites, which together have a presence in more than 1,000 cities around the world. eBay items can be sold either via a silent auction, in which users input the maximum price they are willing to…
This week Amazon introduced Kindle MatchBook, “an innovative new program which enables you to offer your Kindle book at a discount when readers purchase your print book,” to quote its email sent to authors. About time, too; but we expect a certain amount of innovation from Amazon. The truly astonishing thing happened on Thursday, when Oyster, a “Netflix for books,” launched — complete with the participation of HarperCollins.
You may not appreciate how epochal this is. HarperCollins is one of the “Big Five” publishers, all of whom until now have fought subscription model tooth and nail. Granted, they’re only making a subset of their titles available, mostly backlist as far as I can tell; but it’s the principle of the thing that matters, especially since Oyster is reportedly “in negotations” with all the other major publishers. Barring some kind of major reversal, this is the first step down a road that will end some years hence with the majority of all books ever written made available via subscription services. That’s a big deal for everyone.
And so, just as you’ve (presumably) already discarded almost all of your DVDs and CDs, or at least moved them into some kind of musty storage, it will soon be time to jettison the vast majority of your books, since they’ll all be fully available electronically.
It pains me to say this. I grew up in a home with an overstuffed bookcase in every room, and I spent six years of my life as a full-time novelist (published by HarperCollins, in fact.) So let me be the first to say: books aren’t like CDs or DVDs. Books are special. Books are different.
…Well, some of them are.
But let’s face it; most books are really not that special, and not that different. I see both sides of that; I’ve written one or two novels which people genuinely seemed to love and want physical copies of, but also a clutch of crime/thriller novels which were well-received, and a lot of fun to write and (hopefully) read, but probably didn’t much change the course of many lives.
In the same vein, I want to own and keep physical copies of maybe a hundred books — the ones I love, the ones that matter to me, the ones I refer to regularly — but I’ve read thousands, and I’m quite content to leave most of them resident in the electronic ether. I’ll regret the loss of their tangible editions mostly because I enjoyed leaving them on public transit for others to find and read.
I confess to being somewhat disconcerted by the possibility of remote editing/erasing of books controlled by online services, as highlighted by Amazon’s sudden and arbitrary erasure of George Orwell novels from Kindles a few years ago; but, again, keep physical copies of those books which actually matter, and that becomes less of a problem. I’m also slightly worried that Oyster might pay authors as poorly as Spotify does musicians, but since, unlike Spotify, they’re competing with Amazon royalty rates of up to 70%, this seems unlikely.
The presumed growth in subscription-model book servides also means it becomes increasingly advantageous for authors to make their books available for free via a Creative Commons license. I’ve now done that for all of my books (except the Vertigo Comics graphic novel I scripted; they still control its rights.) I don’t know of anyone else other than Cory Doctorow who has CC-released their entire oeuvre, but I expect our number to grow, as authors realize that most readers will eventually wind up using some Oyster-like service, so we’ll receive royalties even though our books are also freely downloadable.
With luck we’re entering a world in which readers have access to any and every book for a flat fee; authors get paid depending on how much they’re actually read; publishers remain a vital but decreasingly visible part of the process; physical books are still available via online print-on-demand and niche physical stores; and zillions of CC-licensed books are freely available to readers in the poor world who can’t yet afford books or subscription services. Call me Pollyanna, but it seems to me that that’s a win for absolutely everyone.
Image credit: Vanity shelf, yours truly.
Read the original post: It’s Almost Time To Throw Out Your Books
Today, Amazon introduced a brand new model of its Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader, which looks pretty nice. But the bigger announcement was a brand new program called MatchBook, which allows authors and publishers to offer heavily discounted Kindle editions of their print books past and future.
After digging into the requirements and features of the program, it seems evident that this is going to be a fairly nice program for existing print and Kindle authors. “I don’t see a downside, at least for me, since, as you say the royalty rate stays the same. It’s more sales (at least in theory),” says David Schwartz, author of Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic, “and that’s the goal.”
The Kindle Matchbook program has a set of requirements for participating, but none of them seem particularly onerous, and they align philosophically with the promise of leveraging your back inventory for more revenue. In order to enroll, you simply have to be selling a physical book of some sort on Amazon, and be a member of the Kindle Direct Publishing program.
We were able to confirm with Amazon that it does not require that users be a member of the more exclusive Kindle Direct Publishing Select program.
This means that if you have a physical book that you’d like to sell an ‘add-on’ Kindle edition of, you’re not required to promise Amazon a period of exclusivity. KDP Select members are often limited to selling books on Amazon alone for around 90 days.
The promotional prices that can be set for a book include four tiers: $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free. Enrolling a title is super simple, just visit the listing and tick a box. The low-friction nature of the opt-in is very ‘Amazon’ in execution and should drive authors to investigate the feature. Once you select a title you set your ‘Promotional List Price’ to one of the tiers. The only restriction here is that you must pick a discount that is at least half off of your regular list price. Amazon says the 50% requirement is to ensure that it’s a ‘compelling’ discount.
Amazon currently has two royalty rates available, which differ in regional availability. So you’ll still get your 35% or 70% slice of that e-book sale. So a lower payday, for sure, but definitely worth it for those ‘back catalog’ folks.
You might see a slow rollout of the feature because publishers have to opt-in at a high level before they can toggle on the bundling for individual titles. MatchBook should have around 10,000 titles when it launches in October. But Amazon Publishing authors (who get the feature by default) and indies can flick it on right away, and should. There’s really very little to be worried about on this end unless you don’t offer a print version of your book at all. But Amazon even has a solution for those folks, as it offers a program for creating print versions of e-books.
And, as Editorial Director of New Island Books Eoin Purcell notes, the program also gives authors an incentive to digitize books that they haven’t already. Thereby tacking on an additional source of revenue with the upgrade bump for first-time users or digital ‘holdouts’.
Personally, I believe that this could drive sales of paper books well into the future. If I know that I can get a Kindle edition for a one or two dollar premium, then I’m more likely to opt-into the print version. This way I can read on planes or at the beach where my electronics aren’t allowed or recommended. And sometimes a paper book is just more pleasant to handle. It also taps into the collector market for those that must have a hardback copy of a book.
I’ve never been the type but know plenty of them, and I do own first printings of precious volumes like the Oz books that I would gladly read in Kindle form again but don’t want to tote around for fear of damage. Not that Amazon is offering discounts on classic editions of books like that, but the philosophy works for super-nice editions of modern titles purchased through the site.
Of course, that all depends on whether people are purchasing both the print and digital editions that weren’t already planning on doing both.
Schwartz says it’s difficult to tell on a wider scale, but he has seen some anecdotal evidence. “I have friends who have purchased both editions of Gooseberry Bluff, but others who don’t have a Kindle and waited for the physical book. But I think this may be a good thing for people who are unsure of making the transition to e-books, since it gives them a way to buy the physical book but try out the virtual one for less. And I’m sure that’s part of the goal.”
For now, the program seems to be a nice step for authors and publishers with deep back catalogs, and seems that it could definitely encourage some to purchase titles digitally that they’ve owned for years in physical form. Delving back through my (somewhat checkered) Amazon purchase history I found several titles that I wouldn’t mind reading again, but have packed away in a bin or box somewhere. Amazon is betting that I’m not alone, and publishers should probably take heed.
Image Credit: amy gizienski / Flickr CC
Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), is a leading global Internet company and one of the most trafficked Internet retail destinations worldwide. Amazon is one of the first companies to sell products deep into the long tail by housing them in numerous warehouses and distributing products from many partner companies. Amazon directly sells or acts as a platform for the sale of a broad range of products. These include books, music, videos, consumer electronics, clothing and household products. The majority of Amazon’s…
Go here to read the rest: For Authors, Amazon’s Kindle MatchBook Offers Plenty Of Upside
Most physical keys have been chased off phones, thanks to the rampant rise of touchscreen technology, but here’s a Kickstarter project that wants to bring smarter kind of physical key to your phone. Pressy is a hardware button that plugs into the headphone jack of your Android phone and can be customised to trigger a range of functions.
So, for instance, if you always wanted a shortcut to snap a photo and upload it straight to a social network you could create that function in the Pressy app. Of course there are apps that can do this sort of thing, but the point about Pressy is that it’s a chunk of hardware that sits within easy reach of your fingers — thereby cutting down on the number of actions required to perform the function you’re after.
The (free) Pressy app will apparently allow a range of shortcuts to be created, based on a combination of short and long presses of the Pressy key. Which all sounds great, so long as you don’t get your shortcuts mixed up — and end up turning on your flashlight instead of taking a sneaky photo, say. Or sending an SMS to your mum saying ‘I’m on my way’, instead of toggling on your Wi-Fi.
The app will also allow for app settings to be customised too, so in addition to a basic photo snapping shortcut you could set up a specifically sneaky photo shortcut that keeps the phone’s screen and flash off and kills the shutter noise. If you wanted to be really, really creepy.
What if you’re using your headphone jack for, y’know, actual headphones? Pressy’s makers have thought of that. The key can be clipped into a small key chain housing, rather than plugged into your phone — and the button on your headphones then doubles as the Pressy key, so you don’t have to fish your keys out of your pockets to trigger your shortcuts.
How much does this smart micro button cost? $17 will get you the basic Pressy. You’ll have to be pretty patient though, as it’s not due to ship til March next year. The project is at least well on its way to hitting its goal of $40,000, with more than $30,000 raised and still 46 days left to run on its funding campaign. Hardware hacking FTW.
Pressy is a hardware button that plugs into the headphone jack of your Android phone and can be customised to trigger a range of functions. Pressy brings back simplicity to your phone. Perform your favorite and most common actions with a simple, intuitive physical button.
Here is the original post: Pressy Is The Customisable Hardware Button Your Android Phone Has Been Waiting For
Outbox, a startup that digitizes your physical mail and makes it available on the web and via iPhone, Android, and iPad apps, says that it’s now generally available in San Francisco.
After a trial period in Austin, Outbox launched in San Francisco earlier this year, but it was a beta version of the service with a wait list — the company says there are still thousands of people on that list who should get in now that Outbox is available to anyone in the city.
In advance of today’s news, we went on a mail run with Outbox co-founder Evan Baehr and one of the company’s “un-postmen” Francis Sanchez. One of the misconceptions about Outbox, Baehr said, is that its users are “all nerds.” And sure, he admitted that “digital natives” are a big part of the early customer base, but he added:
We actually have a lot of different demographics that have found things about Outbox that are interesting. So we have a lot of moms on the platform who just want to be better managers of their home communication. We’ve got a lot of travelers who are away for businesses, consultants or salespeople, and they want to be able to manage this important workflow when they’re not at their house.
There are, naturally, privacy concerns about having a startup open up all your physical mail. Outbox tries to address those concerns with background checks on its un-postmen, shredding and recycling all the physical mail that you don’t want, and offering $1 million in identity theft insurance.
“We can lay out all the extreme measures we’ve gone through to keep your mail safe, [and] there are certain people out there that just aren’t convinced by that,” Baehr acknowledged. “And you know what, at the end of the day, Outbox isn’t for everybody.”
Baehr suggested that the “best testament to what we can pull off” is that as far as the team is aware, Outbox has not yet had any security breaches. (In the video, it sounds like Baehr is suggesting that Outbox has processed more than 1 million pieces of mail, but a spokesperson clarified that the company has processed more than 300,000 pieces, resulting in more than 1 million images.)
The interview with Baehr and with Sanchez also illustrates some of the processes that Outbox has put in place for collecting your mail. Those are particularly important, Baehr said, because they allow the company to keep costs down and charge customers only $7.99 a month.
Since the launch, the company also raised a $5 million Series A. As for what’s next, Baehr said Outbox is planning its launch in New York City.
Outbox digitizes your mail. Outbox will pick up and digitize your postal mail three times a week. Request any mail item and we’ll deliver to you. Access your postal mail anywhere, anytime on your iPad, iPhone, or the web. If you have a package in your mailbox we’ll deliver it to your door or apartment concierge the same day. Tap “Request” on any piece of mail and we’ll deliver it in a package right to your front door or apartment concierge….
Evan Baehr is a co-founder of Outbox, a system for digitizing postal mail. A fan of wax seals and handwritten thank you notes, Evan is passionate about changing how we communicate with each other where the digital and physical meet. From fundraising to hiring, Evan sells the vision of Outbox wherever he goes. Previously he worked on the Facebook platform and for Paypal founder Peter Thiel, served in the White House and U.S. House of Representatives, and graduated from Princeton,…