About Sumbola

Sumbola is an innovative e-publisher based in Toronto, Canada. Our dream is to reinvent how you can read books in a web browser-using your favourite device, whether it's a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Sumbola doesn't want to create another ebook reader like Kindle, iPad, Kobo, or Nook. Those are expensive and aren't open systems, so sharing, as a design principle, isn't their priority.

Sumbola wants to make reading more of a social experience where readers can customize books with their page notes, chapter comments, highlighting and so on, and then share these personal points of view with other readers, and meet new friends as a result. Our idea is to make the platform global and for it be built on open standards, so anyone with web access can get the full benefits.
We think it's important that everyone is on the same page, so to speak.

The problem with ebook readers is that users spend their money on a device (in addition to their phone) that they now have to carry with them, and they read out-of-sync with other readers.

Have you noticed how page numbers in ebook readers are different for different users depending on the text's font size? Have you noticed how page numbers have become known as "location markers?"

How can a user leave a note on location 1,270 and share it with other fellow readers, if they're not on the same page, because they're using different fonts or font sizes? This simple fact makes sharing at the page level impossible.

Sumbola is Latin for "sharing or contribution." The Sumbola platform, based in the cloud, is designed to enable people to read in-sync, to read the same page as everyone else, so when they leave a note or highlight a sentence, everyone is on the same page. Sounds obvious doesn't it? But that's not what ebook readers do. Sumbola users still get to choose their favourite font, change the font size, even adjust the line spacing.

Out-of-sync reading, where Chapter 4 starts on "Location 723" for me and "Location 812" for you, simply because you increased the font size, means that I can't leave a note on my page that will be relevant to you.

The Sumbola platform is in-sync. Everyone is on the same page, so notes and sharing really matter. They're contextual-at the page level. A small thing? We don't think so. Sometimes a small thing makes a huge difference.

The other reason we choose the web as our platform is that readers can access our platform on a standard web browser without the added cost of an ebook reader. For some folks within the publishing industry, it's easy to think that ebook readers are popular everywhere, but compared to web access, ebook readers collectively don't even add up to a single percentage point of the two billion web users-and many of the ebook readers aren't even distributed outside the U.S.

If all we want to do is to generate sales of ebooks, an ebook reader might make sense, but Sumbola is a platform for publishing, reading, sharing, social commerce, social media-and on a global scale. The web is, without doubt, the best way to achieve our goals.
The people behind Sumbola are experienced and dedicated engineers, designers and business managers. We're based in Toronto, Canada.

Our vision is to create an inclusive ecosystem that supports economic growth for all involved in the production and ongoing development of a book.

We have a small staff and manage our business with frugality and focus. We are the typical lean start-up.

We are currently in Phase One of our beta launch.

We shy away from hype and prefer to put the spotlight on the Sumbola platform and the user experience. You, our users, really define who Sumbola is and will become.

Our users are of four primary types:
  • Readers, book lovers, lifetime learners
  • Authors, thought leaders, creative writers, academics, poets, storytellers
  • Talent-editors, illustrators, translators, literary agents, composers, writers for hire
  • Partners-print on demand (POD) services, publishers, brand merchandisers (t-shirts, coffee mugs, wall plaques)
The Sumbola Platform is designed to enable a reader-at the level of any page-to highlight, underline, strike-through, change highlighting colors, change font size, font style, or background color, write notes, read notes of others, see readers on a globe, see page stats, and the list goes on-and those are just for the readers-don't even get us started on talking about the author features.
Sumbola is a Latin word which means to Share in or Contribute to a Celebration. Sharing and contributing are, in essence the foundations of the Sumbola Platform.

User Perspective

To us, this is a philosophical question, not a marketing one. We believe that much of the social web is unintentionally mixed into what has been termed "time killers." We have created a platform that provides a content hub (book), and around this hub, you users can share your insights, ideas and inspirations. You can find friends from anywhere in the world. You can accelerate your learning. You can even earn an income from the Sumbola Platform.

Authors will be able to upload their books to our platform and transform them into a Book CoSI™. (CoSI is our term for Community of Shared Interest.) Authors will learn so much about how readers consume their words, how they are inspired by them, how they feel about them, what are their favourite words, passages, pages, and chapters. Because the Sumbola Platform is a transparent platform, we will let authors learn about the reading experience their book produces in brand new ways-illuminating ways, we believe.

We also want to enable Talent (our word for editors, proof readers, book illustrators, music composers) to make their knowledge, skills and aptitudes available to authors and their Book CoSIs. We believe the web is the best global host for this new form of commerce. It's why we call Sumbola the Creative Economy Platform. We intend to bring authors, talent, and readers together in new ways to tell new stories and create new forms of interaction. Such interaction is, at its heart, shared learning, which, in our humble opinion, is the opposite of time killing.
If you're a reader, simply sign-up and go to the Sumbola Bookstore. Select some books you'd like to read and begin reading. We'd encourage you to set-up your Sumbola Profile, too. Reading on the platform is really a cool experience. You can rediscover some of the classics or delve into a handful of our contemporary writers whom we've carefully selected.

If you're an author, you can upload your manuscript and set up a Book CoSI and Author CoSI and reach out to Talent. We will launch our author backend in the near future, so stay tuned for the precise release date.

If you're talent, you can sign-up now, and respond to author inquiries. Soon all you editors, illustrators and other types of talent will be able to set-up your own virtual Sumbola storefronts to collaborate with authors.
Sumbola believes strongly in empowering authors. Authors are at the heart of everything we do. In the near future, we will be providing authors with the tools to build and interact with their audience and understand them, their wants and needs, and to encourage their audience to support their work. Authors can learn on our platform all of the things that can boost their writing to a new level and to new markets-globally.

Sumbola understands that authors in today's world are not only writing stories, memoirs, self-help guides and so on, but they're also acting as digital media producers and business entrepreneurs. Sumbola strives to supply authors with the tools that enable them to prosper by learning about their audience's interaction with their book. Because for authors, their book is their business, and Sumbola sees itself as the author's business partner.

We're partial to the great books from lesser known authors. You know... the ones that aren't circling the Amazon top 100 because of marketing shtick and a publisher's bankroll. Just like music and films, the best new books are often unconventional with a creative flair that takes them into the unfamiliar. They stretch your heart and mind.

We hope that these books and their authors will find a home on the Sumbola Platform.
A web platform needs to be open, safe, and transparent if it is to stimulate sharing and contribution from its users. That is our goal.

We've created an inclusive ecosystem where authors and readers can connect.

...where talented people can contribute to the ongoing evolution of a book.

...where Communities of Shared Interest (what we call a CoSI™) can grow around a single book, author, talent or publisher. Just say, "cozy!"

This allows a Book CoSI to become greater than the sum of its pages, because it includes the insights and experiences of its readers.

A Book CoSI is organic, always in a state of evolution as new readers add their insights. New page notes, chapter comments, book reviews, inspirations of talented people, friends, and the reading experience data are all added to the original source-the book.

As the Book CoSI develops and is nurtured and curated by its readers, someone might offer a new book cover that the author can use, another might offer a music reading track, and another might produce a translation of the book in another language.

The Book CoSI can evolve and become more compelling in many ways.
That's fine; you can keep all of your notes, comments, and highlights completely private. In the Profile section of My Account, you'll find a tab called "Sharing," and you can control how much or how little you want to share with members of Sumbola or the general public. We, of course, hope you'll choose to share positive, constructive insights and observations, but we also understand that not everyone will want to, which is why we provide the option.
If you have a talent that relates to publishing, please sign-up in the My Talents section of My Account. You can sign-up for multiple talents. Authors will be seeking out talent for book illustrations, cover design, voiceover for an audio book, video producing for a book trailer, serving as a literary agent, and editing at all levels.

Sumbola will launch this section of the site in Phase Two, but you can sign-up now.

Support Questions

The Bookstore is the place to find new books. In Phase One beta, Sumbola will represent the classic books-the finest literature from the world's beloved authors for free. In Phase Two, we will open the platform to allow authors to upload their own books and set pricing on their books. In the Sumbola Bookstore you can view books and select them or buy them. Once you select/buy a book, you will find that book in your Library from that point forward. Newly acquired books will be highlighted, so that you can find them easily.
In the Profile section of My Account you can go to the tab called "Tools" and make the changes there.
There are many ways you can find friends. First, whenever you're reading a book, you can look at the notes on a page and read them. If you read a note that resonates with you, you can click on the link of the note's author and view their Public Profile and make a Friend Request.

You can also search for friends within a book CoSI by opening the toolbar (the icon that looks like a gear in the upper right section of the page). Click on the Readers and you will see a list of people who are reading the same book. Each listing has a link to their Public Profile where you can make a Friend Request.

Want to find friends in your same general area? The ReaderMap is in this same section and allows you to see readers of the book overlaid on Google Earth.

You can also search for friends clicking on the search icon and selecting the members option.
Yes, in the Communications section of My Account, you can send/receive messages from any friend you have on the Sumbola Platform. You can also post messages directly into your Facebook and Twitter accounts without leaving the Sumbola website.
You first need to acquire a book, but assuming you've already been to the Sumbola Bookstore and acquired some books, you'll find these books in your Library.

Just click the book you want to read, and you'll go to the reading section where you can read the book, add notes, comments, highlight, read other's notes-"share and contribute."
Any device that has a web connection and uses a browser can access the Sumbola Platform.

Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops-using the latest browsers-should work well.

We highly recommend that you use the latest version of your favourite browser. Old browsers may encounter some problems.

Author Questions

Sumbola is a next generation digital publishing platform for authors, readers and talent (i.e., editors, illustrators, translators, etc.). It is transmedia enabled, cloud-based, and includes a full feature, ad-free reading environment. For the author, it has a never-before-seen analytics engine that visually displays the reading experience in great detail—at the page level. The transmedia tools allow authors to seamlessly add music, images, video, wiki references, Twitter feeds, in-book surveys, and much more using a user-friendly drag and drop interface. Readers can also for the first time interact with other readers on the planet that are reading the exact same page in real-time. We call this COSI® (Communities of Shared Interest), and our entire platform was designed to facilitate these COSIs. Our comprehension accelerator tools track and assist readers with a built-in dictionary, thesaurus and translator. Publishing on the Sumbola platform is free.
The author does not pay to publish their books on Sumbola. The Sumbola platform receives 30% of net revenues and the author receives 70%. This does not vary from location to location. Authors have a Financials section where they can review their sales numbers and determine their sales by day, week, month and total since publishing. Authors also have access to detailed stats on where their sales are occurring (geographically) and detailed information on how readers are using their book.
Authors receive 70% of net revenues. So transaction and hosting costs are subtracted (netted) out of the gross sales. These are typically small percentages (i.e., 3-5%). For example, if your book is $10, you would receive 70% (or $7) minus hosting and transaction costs (which would be approximately $.40). Your net revenue on the sale of that $10 book would be $6.60.
As of right now (February, 2013), all web-browser connected computers; Android tablets and phones; iPad and iPad mini tablets can all be used to read your digital book on the Sumbola platform. Your content is protected (so people cannot copy-paste your book’s pages from their browser) and it is enhanced because we have various features like a built-in dictionary, thesaurus, and word translator (into 20+ languages).
No, you can sell your book anywhere you like. First, the author retains all rights for their book. There is no exclusive with Sumbola. In fact, you can link to your Sumbola.com author page to your website or Amazon or wherever, and send people to buy your physical book version (if you have a physical version).
No, only if you have no readers can you withdraw your book. If readers have purchased your book, then the book must be available to those who have purchased it. You can suspend your book and disable it from being purchased by new buyers, but those who have paid for your book will have continued access to it, unless there is a copyright infringement or other legal reason that requires us to remove the book from Sumbola.
You can update your book and make new editions; however, you have to publish a new version. You can also suspend sales of an older version. The old editions, however, will still be available to those who purchased them. New buyers can buy any versions that are available (assuming you didn’t suspend sales of a previous version).
Yes, you can upload or copy/paste your Word, PDF, etc. file to our author backend (what we call: Revolutio). Once you’ve published your book-file there, we convert it so it can be served to readers over the cloud (web) and read on mobile tablets, smartphones and web browsers. After publishing you can download the book in ePub format and then review it in any third-party ebook reader.
Authors are paid monthly by Sumbola via PayPal. If the author has a monthly balance in excess of $100 they are paid monthly. If the author has an account balance of less than $100, payments are held until that amount ($100) is achieved, and then payment is made in the following month. We are currently working on additional payment systems to authors.
Authors can download copies of their book in either PDF or ePub formats without charge. Sumbola also has a “Gift” provision so authors can purchase copies of their own book and send those gifted book coupons to specific readers/critics.
Authors have access to a complete financial view into the sales of their book (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) as well as in-depth analytics that show specific, detailed information on the sales of their books: location, reader demographics, time of purchase, etc.
Authors have access to a complete financial view into the sales of their book (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) as well as in-depth analytics that show specific, detailed information on the sales of their books: location, reader demographics, time of purchase, etc.
Books on Sumbola are served from our cloud-based platform independent of the reader’s device. User can synchronize books they have purchased with their mobile apps and read them offline. However, readers cannot redistribute any books from the Sumbola platform from their mobile devices, because of Sumbola’s proprietary technology.
Sumbola has a proprietary, patent-pending DRM (Digital Rights Management) system to ensure that the intellectual property of an author is protected. Readers cannot download and print-out a book or send a book to another reader. Nor can they copy-paste a page from an online display (i.e., browser). An author’s intellectual property is protected on our platform. Only an author can download their book.
Since Sumbola is a cloud-based platform, anyone in the world can purchase and read your book. We are a global platform and are multi-platform friendly.
We recommend one, but we do not require it to publish your book.
Yes, authors can view readers. You can communicate with your readers via our internal messaging system.
At the present time, Sumbola is an English platform. However, authors can publish their books in other languages, but the Sumbola interface (i.e., navigation buttons and onsite content) will be in English. We are currently working on adding support for new languages for the Sumbola interface.
Yes. Once you publish your book on the Sumbola platform, you will simply need to click on the download button in the book tile, then select your file format and your book will be automatically converted to ePub or PDF within seconds. Only Sumbola authors have access to this feature at this time.