The Pigeonhole: Serialised, sociable and gamified reading

The Pigeonhole e1456163593869

The Pigeonhole provides readers with serialised, sociable and gamified content. They can join public reading groups or create their own private ones, and save, highlight and comment on their favourite bits. Publishers are able create a buzz around new titles ahead of launch using serialisation, enhance reading experiences with multimedia, test out new products on curated closed reading groups and have access to usage data. Here The Pigeonhole’s Paul French tells us more.

One of the great puzzles in Berlin’s startup scene is its determination to build beautiful products, often at the expense of distribution. ‘Build it and they will come’ is the most foolish thing a startup can tell itself; an engineering bias that sees so many young companies fall apart. The best product doesn’t always win, which is why, as we iterate and improve, I’m fully absorbed in the challenge of marketing The Pigeonhole’s new reading experience.

The challenge is threefold.

Our team has built a boutique online space for savvy digital readers to hang out, a new platform for pioneering authors and a risk-free technology for traditional publishers to experiment with. This trio – and what differentiates digital from traditional publishing – means that my job is not just to sell books. On any given day, we could be testing a new social or gamification product feature, launching a serialisation or drilling into analytical learnings from our new app.

The parade of technologies being created to claim the hearts of mobile readers (for that is what they are) is representative of the current climate: a digital gold rush. And who are readers if not writers? Who are writers if not publishers? We’re embracing the challenge of meeting all three in one place.

In an on-demand culture, more does not equal more. It’s important for us to curate a bespoke book-browsing experience and to make launching books exciting again. Our readers are enjoying a renaissance of Dickensian serialisation and, as we iterate, the first glimpses of what global transmedia storytelling will look like. We want to bring as many people as possible along for the journey. Reading empowers, but sociable reading can bring deep empathy and develop emotional intelligence. It’s also fun.

But the task ahead of us is perilous. There have already been plenty of digital publishing casualties in recent years – months, even. All of which are instructive. The question I love to ask hesitant publishers for Kindle-cradling readers is: “Could you complete this sentence: I would collaborate with The Pigeonhole if…” The answers give me great hope that the future is far from a closed book.


the pigeonholePaul French runs The Pigeonhole’s marketing from Berlin. In the comments, please complete the sentence: “I would collaborate with The Pigeonhole if…”

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