The past seven months have been very, very busy. As a result, I haven't created any recent blog entries, and this one is longer than most. However, it contains important information about the future of Ereading.com®. We hope you’ll find it informative and even a bit exciting!
I haven’t had much to say about this subject, since the industry has tracked much as I predicted it would back in 2010. Ebook-only stores have continued to fail, with BooksOnBoard.com and AllRomanceeBooks.com being two prime examples of this trend. I should probably add that there is likely much more to these closings than simply dwindling sales; poor management undoubtedly played a pivotal role. Still, the closing of Sony's ebook store in 2014, and the subsequent purchase of their assets by the well-capitalized Kobo.com, is one of the more high-profile examples in recent years.
The sale of ebooks on Amazon and other platforms have continued to level out even as the sheer volume of self-published titles continues to grow, far outpacing demand. The fact is, there just aren’t enough people who read digitally to support the number of writers who want to make a living selling self-published books.
It doesn’t help that many of these self-published titles are often released before they should be. Titles are frequently riddled with poor quality writing, terrible cover art and copy, or both. Even $0.99 U.S. is too much to pay for an amateurish product, and the public has grown weary of that, too.
To be frank, I never believed that most ebook-only stores would succeed. With a few notable exceptions, I’m truly sorry to say that I've been proven right.
Over the past three years, Eread Technologies, Inc.™ received several offers of financial investment. At first glance, two of them seemed to be modestly substantial. Unfortunately, close examination of the proposals revealed that they would be ultimately harmful to the company and to our ever-patient investors. In essence, they proposed giving up a massive amount of ownership in exchange for inadequate funding, resulting in a "runway" that was far too short. This is a long-term game, and we knew from past experience that accepting a poorly-structured and under-financed deal would likely kill the company sooner rather than later.
In the spring of 2016, after a great deal of analysis and a lot of soul-searching, my partner and I made the difficult and challenging decision to fund the company ourselves. Our growing knowledge of the required technology, as well as changes that have taken place in enterprise-grade hosted ecommerce solutions since 2012, played a substantial role in this decision.
As a result, in the second quarter of 2016 we founded Stores Pacific, LLC™, an ecommerce category retailer that will own and operate a network of niche specialty stores online and as pop-up shops at major events.
By the end of 2016, Stores Pacific, LLC successfully developed and launched AnimalCollectibles.com™, the "World's Largest Animal-Themed Merchandise Store" with more than 12,000 products in inventory. Just a few hours into our soft launch, the store had sold its first product—something almost unheard of for a new and untested brand.
So far, AnimalCollectibles.com™ has served as a “test-bed” for our technology and marketing model and is performing better than expected; so much so that we expect it to be profitable within 90 days of launch—also virtually unheard of for new ecommerce brands.
In the near future, Stores Pacific, LLC will restructure as Stores Pacific, Inc.™ in order to offer more favorable tax advantages to our stakeholders. Shortly afterward, the company will absorb Eread Technologies, Inc.™; this will allow our existing investors to reap the benefits not only from Ereading.com®, but all of the company’s current and future ecommerce properties.
Stores Pacific’s future roadmap includes the launch of three additional targeted ecommerce stores in 2017, with more sites slated for development in 2018…including Ereading.com®. It is notable that the soft launch of Ereading.com® will take place approximately six years after we purchased the domain in an unprecedented all-cash deal, and just five years after we were granted our U.S. Trademark.
We're proud that Stores Pacific, Inc.™ will offer great long-term value to our investors; this was always of paramount importance to us. Best of all, we will retain our vision of a social-betterment business model. The company’s Shop and Change the World™ and Read and Change the World™ Direct Donation and Select Grants Programs will contribute to a variety of deserving organizations that support pet and wildlife care and rescue, literacy causes, education improvement, environmental concerns, and hunger and poverty-abatement.
In case you’re thinking that the Stores Pacific business model is a bit too ambitious, we’re happy to prove that it’s not. In fact, our business model was inspired by the success of Wayfair.com®, a company founded out of a residential garage in 2003. Wayfair originally consisted of 280 individual niche stores; their revenue grew steadily over the past decade until they finally consolidated as Wayfair.com, ultimately generating $3.9 billion in sales for fiscal 2015.
This multi-store business model will help us to shield the company against market fluctuations that can severely impact a single channel working to gain marketplace traction. It will also enable us to invest in the enterprise-grade infrastructure demanded by a site of the size and capability of Ereading.com® while keeping the entire company as a whole viable for years to come.
After Eread Technologies, Inc.™ was granted the U.S. Trademark for Ereading.com® in 2013, we immediately began investigating a variety of software platforms capable of handling the more than 22 million individual SKU’s that would be offered through the future Ereading.com® store.
Several of those ecommerce products took months to explore and have stress-tested by engineers (at great personal expense)…only for us to learn that their technology infrastructure would be unable to scale to meet our technology needs in the future.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this process was how many times we were misled by platform companies. All in all, these series of experiences were time-consuming, expensive, and quite dispiriting.
It wasn’t until we began to work with the respected hosted ecommerce platform Shopify® that we discovered they were capable of handling a site with the technical scope of Ereading.com®.
Although standard Shopify® ecommerce plans were inadequate, their enterprise-grade hosting division, ShopifyPlus®, was able to offer us a relatively affordable solution that could accommodate millions of SKU’s and scale for future growth. Just as importantly, it would keep us from having to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars developing the Ereading.com® store, reducing our development expense to a fraction of the original estimated cost.
Choosing to partner with ShopifyPlus® has been an exciting development for us. Although it has been financially difficult for us to spend four years on research and development while supporting ourselves and the pre-revenue company on a shoe-string, we think the wait and the hard work have been more than worthwhile.
We’re thrilled to be able, at long last, to offer a much higher level of value to our existing investors. All while retaining our independence as a company that gives back to the communities it serves–not just across the United States, but around the world.
I’ll be blogging once a week going forward, here and on the forthcoming Stores Pacific, Inc.™ blog. I hope you’ll bookmark us at both locations and check back often to see how we’re progressing.
Thanks for reading, and for your support of Ereading.com®.