What is Ever?
Immer makes a free app that helps you read more, easier and better books on your phone. Co-founder Niels ‘t Hooft: ‘A book is a large object that you really sit in front of. A telephone is a small device that you often use quickly in between. Our mission? To bring a big book on a small screen to the reader in a short moment.”
Immer offers books in stacks and chooses what you want to read based on the content, according to the app. Is there a match? Then the reading app will help you actually finish this book.
Instead of filling the screen as full as possible, the app chooses a comfortably readable portion. The activity summary shows what you’ve read and what you thought about it. And do you put headphones in? Then the app uses dynamic ‘atmospherescapes’ (color and sound) to get you in the mood and draw you deeper into the story.
‘t Hooft: ‘A common complaint about e-books is that it doesn’t feel as good as a real book. Therefore, we use inspiration from games and let’s take an action delicious feel. With us, you swipe through the pages, and a nice animated circle shows how far you are in a book.’
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CEO Niels ‘t Hooft (42) has previously written novels and stories for games. Cto Lennart de Meij (36) wants to start a worldwide reading revolution as a programmer and designer.
Lennart likes to compare the e-book to the very first film. It was nothing more than a camera on a stage. Later techniques, such as mounting and framing, made it a unique experience. We have the same goal in mind with digital reading. At the moment, the e-book, like the movie in the play, is still an afterthought. It doesn’t work because it wasn’t made with the possibilities and benefits of the latest technology in mind. We take the smartphone as our starting point and thus develop a new way of reading that fits into modern digital life.’
According to ‘t Hooft, people would like to read more often than they do now. Immer would like to help them with that. ‘You don’t have a book with you everywhere, but you always have a phone with you. That’s why we bring the book to your phone. We want to make sure that reading on the device you always have with you reads at least as well as a paper book. So you read a book in empty moments instead of opening Instagram.’
Who’s waiting for it?
Immer initially focused on ‘the hesitant reader’, but research showed that it was difficult to reach that target group. The same research showed something else interesting: the avid reader is especially interested.
‘We believed that avid readers, in addition to their paper books and e-books, were not necessarily looking for another way to read. We were wrong. They seem to be very interested in an additional way of reading: anywhere and anytime. Once the app works for this group, we will gradually expand to other groups of readers. In the long term, our big ambition is to create an app that will get even non-readers a book.’
How far is Ever?
The first version of the Immer app has been live in the Netherlands on Android and iOS since October 2020. It gave the startup a better idea of the product and the target audience: not the hesitant, but the eager reader. With this knowledge, Immer recently developed the second version of the app: Immer Reader. It is currently running on a trial basis and will be launched later this year.
At the moment, in addition to the Netherlands, Immer is particularly busy in Germany. There, the startup was the only non-German company admitted to the German ContentShift Accelerator, a competition program for startups and their innovations, organized by the German publishing industry. In the coming months, Immer will compete with five German startups for an incentive prize of 10,000 euros and opportunities on the international publishing market.
What is the revenue model?
The startup uses two revenue models: a margin (25 percent) on publishers’ books and a subscription model for readers. The subscription price is not yet known.
At the same time, there is also interest in a subscription model for books, similar to Netflix for films. “Publishers are still a little hesitant about this. They are afraid that they earn less per customer. It’s a puzzle for us: How can we help publishers earn not less, but more? For example, by bringing readers into contact with authors or each other and by stimulating them to read together. We still have a lot of ideas about that, but more on that later.’
Do you still need money?
Immer raised 600,000 euros in investments in two angel rounds. This money comes from tech founders such as Nalden (WeTransfer) and Robert Gaal (Karma, Quest), employees of large tech companies such as Ebi Atawodi (YouTube), entrepreneurs such as Jörg Mohaupt and Leon Ramakers, but also Arjen Lubach, for example. A new round is coming soon. The requested amount will be between 500,000 and 1 million euros.