Denmark’s New Palatium: Curating Indie Books for Subscriptions

In News by Porter Anderson

Can a ‘gateway to worldwide subscription services’ for self-published authors up the ante for those services? Two Danes think curating indies is the way forward.
In Copenhagen. Image - iStockphoto: William87

In Copenhagen. Image – iStockphoto: William87

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Building ‘the Terribly Technical Machine’
We have made agreements,” says the introductory text on the Web site of Palatium Books,  a startup “with subscription services all over the world—in 24 countries so far—to deliver a curated collection of indie author titles.”

palatium-books-logo-linedNeedless to say, 24 countries do not “all over the world” make. But promotional hyperbole aside, the Copenhagen based duo Rie and Claus Lund Rosenkilde are widening the call to indie authors they’d like to attract. And some will find it interesting that this indie-facing startup is being run by people who owned and ran Denmark’s publishing house Rosenkilde & Bahnhof for 16 years.

Now, they’re all in for indies, and Publishing Perspectives was curious to know why such a big jump over the canal from owning a traditional house to courting the self-publishing world.

The most successful ebook subscription service in the main market for independent writers, of course—the USA—has been Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. Paying writers by the page, it also requires exclusive sales agreements with writers in the KDP Select program. That’s reflected in Palatium Books’ mention of itself as a “non-exclusive” service.

Palatium offers “an advance against royalty of $50” for each title it selects to carry. For more information, the startup’s Web site is at PalatiumBooks.com.

The name for the company, by the way, comes from Rome’s central Palatine Hill, which is thought to draw its name from the noun palatum, or “palate,” a root for the term palace. “Today everybody’s welcome on the Palatine Hill,” says the site’s copy, in good democratic-self-publishing style. “You don’t need a publisher of good reputation, you don’t need to be rich and powerful.

“You just need to be able to write a good book.”

Ah, yes, that part.

Well, assuming you’ve got that “good book” criterion under control, the Rosenkildes would like you to consider their service.

‘A Curated Collection of Indie Author Titles’

Publishing Perspectives: What is Palatium?

Ric Lund

Ric Lund

Rie Lund: You can think of Palatium Books as the indie author’s gateway to worldwide subscription services.

A subscription service is a privately owned library for ebooks, sort of, a Netflix or Spotify for books. We’ve made agreements with subscription services all over the world—reaching more than 6 million readers so far—to deliver a curated collection of indie author titles.

PP: What genres go into the collection you offer to the subscriptions?

RL: We’re mainly looking for fiction in the genres of romance, crime, thrillers, YA and fantasy.

Claus Lund Rosenkilde

Claus Lund Rosenkilde

Claus Lund Rosenkilde: Normally there’s no easy way into these services for indie authors. The subscription services are understandably not geared for handling accounts from individual authors. The subscription services also look upon the huge wall of content that indie authors, combined, contribute to, and our curated list helps them break through.

We find the best indie authors from all over the world, and bring their books into the service.

PP: How fast has Palatium Books grown, and which subscription services are you working with? One is 24Symbols based in Madrid, right?

CLR: We work with many services, among them 24Symbols, Bookmate, Nubico, Skoobe and the interesting German Readfy. Also some smaller players. And right now we’re negotiating with Sweden’s Storytel and Denmark’s Mofibo [which was acquired by Storytel]. We know them well from when we ran the publishing house. Mofibo is down the street from us.

RL: Before Palatium Books we owned and ran the Rosenkilde & Bahnhof. In January, we sold it to Lindhardt and Ringhof, a big Egmont-owned player. This gave us time to focus on self-publishing and indie authors, the new boy in class—something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.

For half a year now, we’ve made contracts with the subscription services and built the terribly technical machine that will enable us to deliver royalty statements and payments to authors every month.

CLR: We already have quite a lot of authors aboard, but now we have everything else in place and are ready to focus on taking in more authors. Our goal is to reach 5,000 titles in two years.

PP: Which subscription services would you like to have but have found so far to be difficult to persuade?

CLR: We’ve had some difficulty with Scribd, but they haven’t heard the last from us.

PP: In terms of startups and the industry, as former publishers, yourselves, how well do you understand the complaints we frequently hear about startups that aren’t good at understanding what publishers need?

RL: This project is really not about what publishers need. This is really about what the many indie authors need and finding new ways to give them more selling points.

The indie authors are publishing more and more books, they’re getting better and better and that’s going to change the industry in some form. It’s like when ebooks came—that was also a game-changer. And this is an exciting field for us.

PP: Are the authors in Scandinavia aware of your offering? Which languages have you been collecting?

CLR: We are looking for books in English and maybe Spanish. And we have of course some advertising plans for the US.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. Prior to that he was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, a channel at The Bookseller focused on digital publishing. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.