Copper is building ‘the Instagram for book lovers’ – TechCrunch
Any book lover knows that feeling: the amazing novel you’re reading ends in a slimy cliffhanger, and all you want to do is chat with other fans about what might happen next, but none of your friends only read the book. You can find fan discussions on Reddit, Tumblr, or Discord, but it can be a bit of a dice game.
Copper Founder and CEO Allison Trowbridge wanted to create a social network focused on books, connecting authors and fans through in-app chats and live events. As an author herself, she also wanted to help writers find new revenue streams, whether through paid virtual events or simply generating enough conversations around a book that more people buy it.
“You have Twitch for gamers, and Etsy for crafters, and Spotify and SoundCloud for musicians,” Trowbridge said. “Writers have never had a platform built around their needs and helping them reach an audience and do so in a way that is authentic and engaging and can scale, but also creates depth in relationships.”
Authors on Copper can host FaceTime-like discussions about their work, which they can sell tickets for in a later version of the app. They can also engage in text-based forum discussions with fans, which helps them deepen their relationship with their readers. The app will still have a free version for authors and fans, but later this year Trowbridge wants to create a premium version of the app, which would give paying users additional features.
Copper is part of a growing group of companies that want to help connect authors to readers. Bookshop.org, Libro.fm and Folio have offered consumers an alternative to Amazon, while apps like The Storygraph are trying to dethrone dormant Goodreads.
Although book sales are increasing every year, Trowbridge believes there has been no significant change in how authors can grow their audience, sell more books, and make writing a more sustainable career ( if you’re lucky, your self-published book might go viral on TikTok, win you a book deal, and become a New York Times bestseller, but we can’t all be Olivie Blake).
Goodreads, for example, remains a go-to platform for discovery, but its interface has visibly not changed since Amazon bought it in 2013. Additionally, Trowbridge noted, emerging authors are urged never to looking at Goodreads reviews of their books (“You’ll never want to write another book again,” she jokes). isn’t the most author-friendly website, Copper hopes to create a fun and useful product for both readers and writers.
“For authors, you’re not just a writer. You’re kind of a micro-entrepreneur,” Trowbridge told TechCrunch. That statement may put off some literary types, but promotion is a means to an end – unless you’re an established superstar, you probably don’t have much help marketing the book you’ve been working on if hard. “Once the book is written, you really do a product launch, and you spend six months thinking about how to launch that product and sell it to an engaged audience who will buy it and read it.
So far, Copper has secured $2.5 million in pre-seed funding led by Wave Capital, and including key individual investors like former Time Inc. executive Fran Hauser. Best-selling author and Wharton professor Adam Grant has also been a crucial adviser to the project.
As Copper exits private beta on iOS, the app has a waiting list of 6,000 potential users, half of whom are published authors. Trowbridge says Copper had “several hundred” of these authors on board during the private beta.
One of Copper’s main selling points is the promise of a community, but the community cannot exist without enough users. So Copper will face a moment of truth in the coming months as it rushes full speed ahead in the age-old pursuit of user acquisition.
“Ultimately, we want to create Instagram for book lovers,” Trowbridge said.