SM: What is Fotopedia’s business model?
JH: The first step is to build significant traffic. We are not there at this point. We have been operating for one year, and we have learned how to get the community contributing content. Until recently, we did not spend enough energy on learning how to allow people to consume those images. One possible business model is to allow purchases of the images, but consuming the images does not necessarily mean that anyone has to purchase them. We have really attractive images, so we now have to discover what do to with those really attractive images to give people a reason to come to us. We have tens of thousands of pictures and it is somewhat scattered. People do not bookmark pictures. The key for consuming images is the iPad.
Our goal now is to present in a magazine form. You get large pictures, but the text is right there on the page with you. It ties well into social networks, which are scattered all over the place. Your social network presence becomes a valuable addition to what is essentially a “live” magazine.
SM: Is that a free application?
JH: It is a perfect place for advertising. We are back to a magazine form and to the magazine business model. We are creating books on valued subjects. We choose subjects that have enough market demand to drive consumption. The first app is Fotopedia Heritage. We decided to cover all 890 UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is not an e-book, it is an iPad and iPhone application. We control the software because we want to control the experience.
SM: Is all of the text prewritten and the pictures preselected, or does the user have some control?
JH: The community is doing it, and all readers can join and add their own pictures, but those photos have to go through the curators. The app is dynamic and live, so there will always be new pictures.
SM: User can participate by uploading their own pictures of any of the UNESCO sites?
JH: They cannot upload their pictures from their iPad, but they can go to their computer and upload them. Each book will already contain the page layout structure. The picture areas will simply be blank pages, and you can simply drop your picture in the appropriate spot. The curators will see it, and they will decide what gets published and what does not. The curators will also add the tags.
SM: Do you have enough momentum among your curators to handle that with crowd sourcing?
JH: Yes. There are no limits to the total number of pages, either. For example, Fotopedia Heritage has over 5,000 pages right now. Even with that many pages, there are still missing pages. People can help fill in the gaps.
SM: Blurb is popular with professional photographers and serious amateur photographers. The site helps them create and publish their books. Those who publish their books through Blurb do not have a way of marketing themselves. If they could market themselves through Fotopedia that would be wonderful.
JH: We have that in mind for those people. Right now we are focusing on the community books like Heritage. Those books will not be sold. I am also working with professional photographers who have big sets of pictures. We work well in scale. I will select five or ten photographers, we will sell their books, and they will get a share.
SM: That is the best business model for you.
JH: That is our biggest plan. We want to experiment because I am skeptical about the best way ahead. We will likely also do advertising. I am also considering allowing the pictures by photographers who we have paid book agreements with to appear in our free books, and the advertising on those pages to be for the paid author’s books. Every photographer I contacted to be part of Heritage agreed immediately because they all wanted to be on the iPad.
SM: What is the DRM? Can people rip these pictures?
JH: We will never, ever prevent people from doing screenshots. That is OK because the resolution is not there. On the iPhone or iPad, that is the only thing people can do. We publish 1920 x 1080 resolution; we do not publish the original. Some pictures are public and part of the public domain. When you sell a book, it is private.
SM: I am really looking forward to Heritage and your future books. Fantastic.