One of the newer publishing-related startups at London Book Fair this year was Story Terrace. Launched last November in The Netherlands, it's planned for a UK rollout in June. Story Terrace's business? It "consigns the life stories of everyday people to a compact book with the help of a professional writer." Pricing, between £1,200 and £2,200 for books ranging from 50 to 100 pages, is listed here. The company might remind you of the earlier years of Eileen Gittins' Blurb in San Francisco, focusing on a customized gift-book and special-occasion market. We put several questions to Story Terrace prior to its UK iteration. Its founder, Rutger Bruining (pictured), responded. — Porter Anderson
FutureBook: Tell us why your company is called Story Terrace.
Rutger Bruining: When telling their life stories to one of our professional writers, we want the customer to feel just as they do when sharing stories with friends and family, while watching the sunset and drinking a glass of wine on a terrace.
FutureBook: What need this new development meant to answer? Who is your company's main customer?
Bruining: Often we hear so many people wishing that they had more information about their own ancestors. We provide the opportunity to leave a short, professionally written book for generations to come so that family stories and small details won’t get lost forever. Plus it helps people to paint a more comprehensive picture of their family tree.
We target both customers who would like to write their memoirs alongside a professional writer and 30- to 50-year-olds looking for a unique gift for their parents on special occasions such as Mother’s and Father’s Days, special birthdays, and wedding anniversaries.
FutureBook: What's the time frame in which you expect to deploy?
Bruining: Story Terrace was founded in February 2014 but I chose to launch in my native Holland in November 2014 before focusing on the UK market in 2015. This allowed us to really fine-tune our offering in a smaller market before introducing it to the UK.
The first step was to spend time with pilot customers and our first writer group to develop the processes and final product. Now we are building our UK writer pool for our full launch in June so we can match customers with one of the 100 writers we are selecting.
FutureBook: How do you anticipate evaluating the results?
Bruining: We work very closely with all of our customers and measure their satisfaction after the book has been completed and shared with family and friends. Ultimately, we can best measure our results by the number of referrals, and we will be introducing a friends’ discount coupon. Some some customers buy multiple products. In 100 years, we should compare the number of books written to the number of books still being kept in a special place and passed on as our true measure of success.
FutureBook: How is your work funded?
Bruining: We have self-funded, setting up the platform from savings. But we will be looking to raise funding by year's end to accelerate our growth. We are considering different routes: venture capital, business angels and crowdfunding.
FutureBook: What indications do you have that the time is right for Story Terrace's expansion?
Bruining: The time for the UK launch is now. Our product resonates really well when we speak to potential customers. But awareness that one can professionally create a compact book at our price levels is low. Other indications are the popularity of biographies in bestseller lists and a strong interest in family and/or social history. Real-life stories are definitely having a resurgence at the moment with the popularity of podcasts such as Serial and The Moth for example, so we feel we are coming in at the right time.
Images provided by Story Terrace