Foundry Group Looking to Disrupt Book Publishing With New Startup

The Foundry Group is getting into the book publishing game.

The Boulder, CO-based venture capital firm said Wednesday that it has formed FG Press, a startup publishing house.

The purpose of the new press will be to better connect authors and readers by upending the traditional role of publishers, according to the FG Press website.

“We believe there should be no barrier to entry for the creation of long-form content, quality should never be compromised to grow the bottom line, and there should exist a direct and continuous relationship between author and reader,” the site said.

Sounds idealistic, perhaps, but not naïve. Among the innovations the press will offer is a 50-50 split of revenue from book sales, help with marketing and distribution, and a commitment to be “uncompromising in using forward-looking technologies and approaches to create the best possible book,” the site said.

The press will produce traditional print books and digital e-books, and it will experiment with technologies that allow for interaction between authors and readers, according to the site.

Co-founder and CEO Dane McDonald said the company will work with authors from a variety of genres, but at the start it will focus on what its backers know best—books about startups, entrepreneurship, and business management, along with some science fiction.

The press already plans to publish eight books this year. It will be self-funded and is a separate entity from Foundry Group.

There are other attempts to disrupt the publishing industry, including self-publishing services. FG Press will be different by being more supportive of authors and not charging authors for publishing with the press, McDonald said.

“The vast majority of online self-publishing sites really just act as basic service providers. In this model, an author selects one of many packaged deals to produce their book,” he said. “This method certainly fulfills one aspect of the publishing market, but it’s our opinion that its impersonal nature often leaves authors searching for a more fulfilling experience.”

Ultimately, FG Press would like to build “a family of authors” who “collectively influence the direction of FG Press as a whole,” McDonald said.

In a post on his blog, Foundry Group managing director Brad Feld wrote that the project was born of his frustration with the traditional publishing process.

Feld is a prolific writer in his own right. Online, he writes a popular blog, Feld Thoughts, and he co-created the Ask the VC blog with his Foundry Group partners.

Feld has written several books, including “Do More Faster,” which he co-authored with Techstars co-founder and CEO David Cohen, and “Venture Deals,” a guide to venture capital he co-wrote with Foundry Group managing director Jason Mendelson. He also wrote “Startup Communities,” “Startup Life,” and books about startup management.

Producing those books led him to believe the relationship between authors, publishers, and readers is broken—and that publishing houses are at fault.

“The relationship between the reader and the author has an immense amount of friction in it. And that friction comes from the publisher,” Feld said on his blog.

Feld also emphasized the experimental nature of the project, likening it to the early years of the Techstars startup accelerator after it was founded in Boulder in 2006. Feld is a co-founder of Techstars.

“We are running an experiment in the first year. The experiment involves anyone who wants to participate. We expect to learn a lot and iterate very rapidly on what we are doing,” Feld wrote. “[We] will make mistakes. We’ll learn a lot. We’ll have fun.”

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