In addition to publishing, the startup will now create merchandise for the region’s bestselling books.
Kotobna, the first online self-publishing platform in the Arab world, has just announced its acquisition of 40% of Autograph, an online store for bestselling book merchandise. The startup projects that, with this acquisition, the company’s value will increase to USD 3 million.
In 2015, Kotobna won the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition for its democratisation of the publishing process. Arab authors can directly upload their work on the platform, where readers have access to a massive collection of ebooks, and can also request printed copies delivered to them.
Kotobna has to date published more than 1800 ebooks, sold 50,000 electronic copies, and printed 800 print-on-demand copies. Now, it looks to diversify its products with an array of culturally specific, locally sourced merchandise that speaks to the wealth of franchises in the region.
In 2016, Autograph started selling gifts and stationery products inspired by characters in best-sellers such as Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Marvel. “We want to help our listed authors in Egypt and the Gulf rebrand their work by converting their heroes into interesting stationery items and giveaways, thus creating a stronger bond between readers and their favourite characters,” says Mohammed Gamal, founder and CEO of Kotobna.
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