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Jacob Cockcroft is founder of The Pigeonhole. He is a lifelong book addict with a passion for blending the old and the new. With family origins in Zanzibar, his background is in the intelligences and security sector. Teaming up with publishing guru – Anna Jean Hughes – their mission is to show the world that digital publishing can go beyond the book.

Innovation in the publishing industry is like watching a black and white movie in a world painted in high definition colour. First we had Kindle, an important step but hardly revolutionary – just piping content into a digital form, and now we have e-tailers competing to be the ‘spotify of music’. It’s all fine and good, but that’s really all it is; the potential is so much greater.

In parallel to this insipid innovation, the past ten years has seen a huge revival in the most classic of social gathering, the book club. Two simple facts illustrate this turning point: “in 2003, a Google search for ‘book club’ returned 424,000 hits; now it returns 40 million” (McSweeney’s The State of Publishing). And, according to the Daily Telegraph, there are an estimated 50,000 book clubs in Britain alone.

The Pigeonhole exists at the intersection of these two developments – but is powered by a deep philosophical conviction about reading – it is THE best tool to compete and prosper. Understanding human nature, society, love, loss, competition, empathy, influence and power; these are the raw materials that give you an advantage. And books are the best and cheapest source of this. Even in the digital world, understanding people is everything.

Books just need to be packaged in the right way for the new generations, those who are armed with shorter attention spans and smart phones. This is what The Pigeonhole does, we make it fun to read, and then we socialise it. And crucially, our content is pigeon-picked and carefully curated to make you think, laugh, cry and grow. We are the pioneers in this space.

With The Pigeonhole, you can choose your book, decide when and how often to receive your instalments and read together with friends or a global audience. It is the book club in your pocket. It is a fun thing to get a notification telling you that your next instalment is ready. It is even better to see that your girlfriend has highlighted your favourite line from that day’s story. It’s brilliant that you can start a conversation with her to that effect on your way to work.

There are two driving forces in the digital world – the sharing economy and on-demand. This is central to The Pigeonhole – but we also add a third important element, gamification. People should feel a sense of achievement when they finish a book, that they have taken another step in the journey of personal enrichment. Gamification does this. So do we.

How did The Pigeonhole come about? I am a book addict, forever immersed in a book, scribbling down quotes and underlining passages to share with my wife. And I also used to travel a lot, particularly to Africa, in my past life as an intelligence professional. Reading a book late at night in my hotel room in Nairobi, I wanted to share a quote with my wife – to say hello. The Pigeonhole enables this, allowing people to share moments through the medium of a book, wherever they are.

So this is us. Determined to bring colour to an industry reluctant to embrace technological change, and grounded in an understanding that reading empowers, we are creating a genuinely sociable reading experience, and revelling in the true potential of digital reading.


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