Industry Notes: A Milestone at the Netherlands’ Sweek; Facebook Live at BookExpo

In News by Porter Anderson

In the Netherlands, a reading and writing platform startup, Sweek, is in fast growth. And in the States, next week’s BookExpo and Bookcon will have Facebook Live streams of author and celebrity interviews.

The landing page at the Netherlands-based reading and writing platform Sweek

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

Some 1,000 Users Joining Sweek Daily
Sweek, the Rotterdam-based reading and writing platform for those glued to their smartphones, this month has passed the 100,000 user mark, seven months after launching at Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

Sweek is owned by Peter Paul van Bekkum, whose self-publishing platform is Sweek’s parent company.

According to information from Van Bekkum, Sweek’s users are based in more than 100 countries. Not unlike what’s seen at Wattpad, Canada’s reading and writing social network with an audience of some 45 million users, traditional publishing companies, Van Bekkum says, are starting to scout for talent at Sweek.

In a prepared statement, Sweek co-founder and business development manager Veronika Kartovenko is quoted, saying that the mobile phone, again as in Wattpad’s case, is the key to Sweek’s quick traction. “These people still read a lot,” Kartovenko says, “but in a different way.

“As in other industries, the smartphone is on the rise in the publishing world. With Sweek, we’re entering the next chapter in publishing. The new rockstars of writing come from mobile publishing.”

As in the models used by Wattpad and Radish and other such platforms, Sweek’s readership is responsive to its free content, to series, and to connection—access to the writer of a favorite story or series.

“Readers can follow and like stories,” says Kartovenko, “and share them via social media channels, while creating a tight reading community. They can also give direct feedback to the author. With one click, authors can directly reach their followers.

“Compared to the current situation, in which reading is a solitary activity and the author doesn’t know who his readers are, this fundamentally changes the nature of reading and writing. We think this social element is one of the most important reasons for users to embrace Sweek from the start.”

Sweek is using country-specific and worldwide contests to help generate traffic and bond with users. At the moment, for example, the Ravensburger competition, named for the German publishing house, is being run in partnership with Sweek and the platform’s reading community votes on the first cut of the shortlist. Other competitions involved Spanish-language content and a contest in Brazil, as well.

‘Lounge’ Act at BookExpo and Bookcon

Facebook Live will be doing interviews with some of the higher profile speakers from the floors of BookExpo on Thursday and Friday (June 1, 2) and BookCon on Saturday and Sunday (June 3, 4).

Set in what’s termed the Facebook Live Lounge will be live-streaming its content and giving users on the site a chance to ask questions through Facebook comments.

Among the personalities anticipated to show up in the programming are Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, Victoria Aveyard, Matt Bomer, Dan Brown, Jenny Han, James Patterson, Nicola Yoon, Jason Reynolds, Veronica Roth, Rainbow Rowell, and R.L. Stine, according to press materials from ReedPOP, producer of BookExpo and BookCon this year.

There’s also a special partnership with HarperCollins’ Epic Reads for younger readers, and in a prepared statement, Harper associate publicity director for children’s books, is quoted, saying, “Festivals and cons are where readers get to meet their favorite authors and experience fandom to the maximum degree. It’s great to bring the same all-access, community-first spirit of these events to our digital audience.”

To see BookExpo interviews on Facebook Live, see this page.

To see BookCon interviews, see this page.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.