After aggressively promoting its new lifestyle social media platform Lemon8 in the US, ByteDance appears to be developing another content app for its largest overseas market.
According to a. filed a trademark application for a range of book publishing products and services submission published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The trademark, dubbed 8TH NOTE PRESS, offers an interesting insight into ByteDance’s apparent e-publishing ambitions.
Trademark registration was earlier reported from Business Insider.
The list of products and services registered with 8TH NOTE PRESS contains a App for reading, downloading and discussing fiction e-books in an online community; retail bookstores; ordering books in audio, printed and digital formats; publication of electronic books, audio books and physical books; and providing online non-downloadable fiction and non-fiction books.
Companies are constantly registering brands in anticipation of expanding into new industries in the future, but they don’t set timelines or place any obligations on registrants, so moving to the 8TH NOTE PRESS brand doesn’t necessarily mean that ByteDance material is taking steps into the publishing world yet .
But book publishing and distribution sounds like logical next steps for ByteDance given TikTok’s success in getting book lovers to share on the short video platform using the hashtag #BookTok. Though ByteDance posted record profits overall last year, TikTok itself has suffered mounting losses, according to the Financial Times reported. ByteDance is likely looking to find new ways to monetize its hundreds of millions of users overseas.
The branding efforts are “not related to TikTok,” but ByteDance is “always exploring new possibilities,” according to a person familiar with the matter. That’s to be expected since short, bite-sized videos don’t match long reads that require longer attention spans.
TechCrunch has reached out to ByteDance for comment.
Unsurprisingly, ByteDance is releasing a standalone book app where, as the trademark registry suggests, users can read, download, buy, and talk about books.
While TikTok may not sell books directly, it can certainly help lure users to the potential book app — as it did for Lemon8, recruiting influencers to promote the lifestyle-focused social media platform.
The mountain of user data and insights TikTok has amassed could be used to find out what people like to read, and the same types of content recommendation algorithms that suggest videos on TikTok could be used to suggest new books to read in a separate to introduce the app.
If ByteDance jumps into e-publishing, how will it compete with industry giant Amazon in publishing and distributing books? And where it would fit into what has otherwise become a fairly fragmented market in the long tail.
Online publishing data is scarce and Amazon has never disclosed much about the company’s earnings, and when it does, those metrics are notoriously vague. Keeping track of all books self-published through Kindle is also an insurmountable task, not least because not all of them have their international identifiers or ISBN numbers, like research group Wordsrated mention, that.
However, Amazon’s position as a popular publisher, distributor, and hardware player (via the Kindle) likely gives it an outsized spot in that market. Industry insider Benedict Evans estimated At the end of 2019, Amazon had “at least 50% of the U.S. print book market and at least three-quarters of publishers’ e-book sales.”
ByteDance’s advantage when it comes to books is clearly its sprawling social media empire, where authors and fans can connect directly and readers can share their thoughts with others.
This role is effectively still up for grabs. The closest Amazon has come to nurturing an online community for its readers is when it acquired social reading site GoodReads a decade ago.
GoodReads’ integration with other Amazon products has been limited at best, with Wi-Fi connected Kindle readers occasionally seeing GoodReads highlights, making GoodReads Kindle the default purchase option. But the 16-year-old book review site still appears to be going strong, with 125 million “members” and 3.5 billion books cataloged. according to the company.
E-books are no stranger to ByteDance. In 2020, news broke that it would acquire about 11% of listed Chinese e-book reader Yuewen (the deal has been finalized). It also operates one of the most popular web novel apps in China, Tomato Novel, which allows readers to read for free but with ads, or pay a monthly subscription fee for an ad-free experience. In 2021 it tried itself Operation of an English web fiction app called Mytopia, which spans the genres of romance, horror, and fantasy. It handed out rewards to attract novelists much like it gave cash incentives to TikTok creators.
Before Mytopia had a chance to grow meaningfully, it was Flak caught for launching erotic ads on Facebook and Instagram. 8TH NOTE PRESS should know better this time.