Celeb-Endorsed Book Club Startup Nets Huge Series B

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Would you be more likely to read a book if it was recommended by NBA superstar Stephen Curry?

Silicon Valley is betting on it. A book club startup called Literati just raised $40 million in Series B funding. Its founder wants the company to be the first “new, innovative” bookseller since Amazon.

Oprah’s Book Club, Remixed

Austin-based Literati started out as a children’s book subscription service, attracting $12 million in funding in 2019.

Last year the company expanded its target demo with a line of adult book clubs helmed by so-called “luminaries” like mogul Richard Branson, activist Malala Yousafzai or b-baller Curry (also a Literati investor.)

  • Each month, members of a particular club receive a print copy of a book selected by their luminary, plus access to an app to chat with other readers and listen to conversations between the book’s author and their celeb curator.

By pairing interaction with scale, CEO Jessica Ewing wants Literati to function as a social network, toeing the line between the celebrity-infused Oprah’s Book Club and an intimate wine-and-cheese discussion between friends.

A (Book)Seller’s Market

Contrary to popular belief, the demise of print has been greatly exaggerated. As people sought entertainment from the comfort of their couches last year, YoY hard-copy book sales jumped 8%, the highest gain in a decade.

  • The celebrity touch is also in vogue. Masterclass, which offers online courses from industry elites netted an $800 million valuation last year. And Cameo, which lets stars send personal messages to fans is valued at $300 million.
The Takeaway:

Ewing believes people are still willing to take the leap on books, despite the plethora of entertainment options out there today. “Books are aspirational,” she told TechCrunch. “No one aspires to play more video games, people aspire to read more.”