Blloon confirms closure but considers 'complete pivot'

Blloon confirms closure but considers 'complete pivot'

Blloon has confirmed that following a series of talks on Friday (30th October) the subscription service will close.

However, the platform’s founder Thomas Leliveld told The Bookseller the company was currently evaluating the “different strategic options we have at our disposal” and said as a consequence the company will not shut down.

He said: “After several talks today (30th October), it has been concluded that the service as is (ie the unlimited subscription service) will be discontinued for our users. However it was also decided to further evaluate the different strategic options we have at our disposal and as consequence the company will not shut down.”

He added: “These options include a sale, partnership or complete pivot.”

Lelivled said the Blloon website intended to communicate this message to its users soon.

A post on the platform’s website said the company was reviewing its options of how to make Blloon “rise again”.

“We’re extremely proud of our tight-knit team and the beautiful product that we have built,” the message said. “We’ve shaken up book discovery with our curated readlists, created some fantastic features, like our quote generator, and we were the first reading app to build a light-sensitive Chameleon reading mode.

“That said, we haven’t been able to align with our partners to make our current business model sustainable. Therefore, we are putting our service into hibernation mode while we review our strategy and options on how to make Blloon rise again.”

The Bookseller reported earlier that Blloon was on the brink of closure and that a decision on its future would be made today (30th October).
The service launched in October last year offering a raft of titles from notable independent publishers such as Bloomsbury, Profile, Faber Factory, Guardian Books, Allen & Unwin, Lonely Planet and more and had plans to roll out to the US and Germany, where its founders are based, after its UK launch.

It began by offering a limited subscription model, allowing users to read 1,000 pages for free or continue reading by sharing and recommending books, inviting others to join the service, or by upgrading to a premium membership at a cost of £3.99 for 500 pages.
However, Leliveld said the company found this model hard to communicate to users, so in June this year Blloon moved to an unlimited model, allowing customers to read an unlimited number of books for £7.99 a month. However, this move lead to two key publishers dropping titles from the service and four months later Leliveld found himself having to make a decision about whether to accept more investment to roll out the platform or to wind it up.

He said: “The service can only continue if the three parties, the users, publishers and service providers are all happy, and the users wanted more books, from companies like Penguin Random House, in our service. A lot of publishers have an issue with the unlimited model, for good or bad reasons. I was just about to hit the button of some more investment but I couldn’t see this building in the mid to long term into a financially healthy business. Then Oyster shut down and these guys had significantly more investment that I did and I said ‘if they are having trouble, this is going to be a problem’.”

Leliveld added: “The main issue was not a consumer one , it is a publisher-related problem to do with them supporting subscriptions. If they do support a version of it, it is in a way that is not financially sustainable to us. Having said that, we have had excellent relationships with the publishers which have supported us.”

The news comes on the back of US subscription service Oyster announcing it would close next year.