TikTok’s parent ByteDance eyes a new chapter, in book publishing

After aggressively promoting its new lifestyle social media platform Lemon8 in the U.S., ByteDance appears to be crafting another content app for its largest overseas market.

Lemon Inc, a subsidiary of ByteDance, has filed a trademark application for a range of book publishing products and services, according to a filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The trademark, which is called “8TH NOTE PRESS,” offers an interesting insight into ByteDance’s apparent e-publishing ambitions.

Business Insider previously reported the trademark filing.

The list of products and services registered with 8TH NOTE PRESS includes a app for reading, downloading and discussing fiction ebooks in an online community; retail bookstore services; order books in audio, print and digital format; publishing of e-books, audiobooks and physical books; as well as providing non-downloadable fiction and non-fiction books online.

Corporations register trademarks all the time in anticipation of expansion into new verticals in the future, but they don’t specify deadlines or bind registrants, so the move to trademark 8TH NOTE PRESS doesn’t necessarily mean ByteDance is taking any material . it still takes us into the publishing world.

But publishing and distributing books sounds like the next logical step for ByteDance, given TikTok’s success in attracting book lovers to share them with the hashtag #BookTok on the short video platform. While ByteDance posted a record profit last year as a whole, TikTok itself suffered mounting losses, the Financial Times reported. ByteDance is likely eager to find new ways to monetize its hundreds of millions of users overseas.

The trademark effort is “not related to TikTok,” but ByteDance is “always exploring new opportunities,” according to a person with knowledge of the matter. This is expected since the bite size of short videos doesn’t match long reads that require a longer attention span.

TechCrunch has reached out to ByteDance for comment.

It won’t be surprising to see ByteDance roll out a standalone book app where users can, as the trademark registration suggests, read, download, buy and talk about books.

While TikTok may not directly distribute books, it can certainly help drive users toward the potential book app, as it has done with Lemon8 by recruiting influencers to promote the style-focused social media platform. life

The mountain of data and user insights TikTok has amassed could be used to figure out what people like to read, and the same kinds of content recommendation algorithms that suggest videos on TikTok could be used to introduce new books to read in a separate application.

If ByteDance enters e-publishing, the question is how it plans to compete with industry giant Amazon when it comes to publishing and distributing books. And where would it fit into what is otherwise shaping up to be a fairly fragmented market in the long tail.

There’s little data about online publishing, and Amazon has never disclosed much about the operation’s revenue, and when it does, it’s famously vague about those metrics. It’s also an insurmountable task to keep track of all the self-published books through Kindle, especially since not all of them have their international identifiers, or ISBN numbers, as research group Wordsrated points out.

However, Amazon’s position as a popular publisher, distributor and hardware player (through the Kindle) probably gives it an outsized place in this market. Industry expert Benedict Evans estimated in late 2019 that Amazon had “50% or more of the US print book market and at least three-quarters of publisher e-book sales”.

ByteDance’s edge in books clearly lies in its expanding social media empire, where authors and fans can connect directly and readers can share their thoughts with others.

That role, indeed, is still up for grabs. The closest Amazon has come to fostering an online community for its readers is its acquisition of social reading site GoodReads a decade ago.

GoodReads’ integration with other Amazon properties has been limited at best, with WiFi-connected Kindle readers occasionally seeing GoodReads highlights and GoodReads making Kindle the default purchase option. But the 16-year-old book review site is apparently still going strong with 125 million “members” and 3.5 billion books listed, according to the company.

ByteDance is no stranger to e-books. In 2020, news broke that it would acquire approximately 11% of the listed Chinese e-book reader Yuewen (the deal went through). It also operates one of China’s most popular web novel apps, Tomato Novel, which allows readers to read for free but with ads or pay a monthly subscription fee for an ad-free experience. In 2021, he dedicated himself to running an English web fiction app called Mytopia that spanned the romance, horror, and fantasy genres. It handed out bounties to attract novel writers, unlike its cash incentives to TikTok creators.

Before Mytopia had a chance to grow significantly, it made waves by launching erotic ads on Facebook and Instagram. 8TH NOTE PRESS should know better this time.

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Ikaroa is proud to be witnessing the emergence of a new chapter in the world of book publishing, thanks to the initiatives taken by the wildly popular social media app, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. Having recently announced its foray into book publishing, ByteDance is now investing heavily into creating original, first-of-its-kind literature.

In this new chapter of book publishing, ByteDance is providing authors and publishers with an innovative and boosted platform to reach out to a larger and more contemporary audience by employing their deep Silicon Valley AI experience. In recent times, the company has devoted much of its resources to curating, translating, and promoting a list of both classic and modern Chinese titles through the channel dedicated on its app, Duoshuo.

Ikaroa is interested to see how ByteDance’s book publishing venture will help shape the digital publishing landscape over the next several years. We believe that ByteDance is well-positioned to make book publishing more accessible to the global readers by building out their digital publishing arm and leveraging their vast technology infrastructure.

The company is connecting readers and authors, both old and new, to a whole new reader base and enabling them to speak their language (i.e. get heard in multiple languages). Additionally, they have launched their flagship cloud, Huiben, which has all of the functions of an author’s personal and publisher’s back-end office. This unique cloud technology could revolutionize the book publishing world by streamlining the workflow, making it easier to monitor sales and marketing, and ultimately making the publishing process more efficient and cost-effective.

Ikaroa applauds ByteDance for recognizing the need for diverse voices and for positively disrupting the traditional book publishing landscape. We are looking forward to seeing how their new venture will benefit both authors and publishers in the coming months and years.


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