Tablo begins to show its long-term strategy as it launches a data-play that is a first of its kind

- April 23, 2015 4 MIN READ

Melbourne-founded cloud publishing and author community platform Tablo yesterday announced the launch of its newest product, Tablo Scholar.

Tablo is a social writing tool where authors can publish books and connect with large audiences of readers; and what Scholar will now do is enhance that experience by giving authors access to a powerful analytics platform, which Tablo founder Ash Davies believes will ‘redefine the editing experience’. Authors will be able to understand on a deeper level how readers are engaging with their books.

“Over the past few months Tablo has really found its position in the market, and people now know us as a product that helps authors write better books and have an even greater chance of success,” says Davies. “People are using Tablo to share their work, build a name for themselves, connect with readers and improve their writing.”

Davies says the primary function and goal Tablo is to help users become better authors: “We have been having numerous discussions about what we can create that will allow them to improve their books.”

“Our inkling has always been that the best way to improve your writing is to get to know your readers. The best way to improve a book is to understand the way people are reading it. In a way that is what the editing process has always been for books, having someone who knows about readers working with you to optimise your book for an audience.”

Tablo Scholar is data-driven, which makes it an extremely valuable asset for the startup as it moves forward. There is no other product in the market that provides meaningful insights into how readers are actually engaging with an author’s book. It’s worth noting that the insights Tablo Scholar offers are not just basic analytics; it is very similar to the approach around data and systems that a tech startup would use to measure and track its own success and performance.

Tablo worked with a group of successful authors and hobbyists using the platform to determine exactly what kind of insights and data would help them improve their books. The process of working things backwards – as in, going to the users first to determine what would be valuable – and ultimately creating new technology as a result of that process, is quite unique and eventuated in Tablo being able to show its users new metrics – like what chapters in their books are most engaging, at which point in the book readers drop-off, and insight into who their target demographic should be. The latter is critical to the marketing aspect of a book that many self-published authors get wrong resulting in the ultimate failure of their product.

“Tablo had to compile [this data] in a way that gave [the authors] clear actionable understandings that will help them improve their books, better connect with their readers and market it in a more effective way,” says Davies.

“[During our testing phase] the reader retention graph has proven to be the most effective. It shows you who starts reading your book and the percentage that continue reading and get through each chapter of your book”.

The reader retention graph can be likened to a typical ‘conversion funnel’ used in business; success is all about how many people go through to the ‘next step’ and the same applies with successful books.

Currently there are more than 1 million words a day published on Tablo; and this is the first time the startup is offering a paid / premium version of Tablo. Up until now, the sole source of revenue was through a clip of the ticket from book sales by authors using the platform. The data approach also positions Tablo as a clear premium product in the space, especially when you consider that many of its competitors have chosen to further monetise their platforms by doing things like placing advertising within people’s books. This not only seems a little tacky, but sends a mixed message about how supportive they really are of the content being produced by authors on those platforms.

At face value, the opportunities being presented to authors by Tablo are far more beneficial, and Davies thinks that what his company is doing will help push the industry forward.

“People are going to take a lot more notice of Tablo, because we are starting to push the whole industry forward, Tablo Scholar is a product that nobody has invented on this scale. I think that we are showing that this approach to publishing is the future of publishing,” says Davies.

“Tablo Scholar is the most important product we’ve ever created because it helps any passionate writer, whether they’re an aspiring independent or a signed professional, learn more about their books and become an even better writer. Tablo Scholar offers all authors a dimension of understanding that’s never really been seen, and we can’t wait to see how people use it”.

Tablo Scholar delivers a great UX for users and the UI is incredibly simple, yet extremely professional looking. The way in which the algorithm measures the metrics is quite in-depth. For instance, a unique reader is not just somebody who is ‘viewing’ the book on the platform, but an engaged person turning pages.

Tablo is fast becoming the platform of choice for sub-genres of books that would usually be turned away from traditional publishers. This means that the fan-bases forming around Tablo’s 20,000-strong author community are more engaged because they are actively seeking out content in areas such as LGBT literature, erotica, fan fiction as well as popular genres like thriller, Sci-Fi and comedy, to name a few. Davies says this is because users feel that the platform actually supports their work.

Although the focus for now is getting Tablo Scholar into as many users’ hands as possible, Davies did tell Startup Daily that a possible Series A funding round could be on the cards as the company looks to scale.