Former AU student will create a Spotify for study books

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Camilla Hessellund Lastein has a good idea and she has dropped out of her degree programme to realise it. Private investors have just invested three million Danish kroner in her company, and in a month the young entrepreneur will launch a beta version of what she describes as Spotify for study books.

2015.09.22 | Marie Groth Andersen

Camilla Hessellund Lastein has a good idea and she has dropped out of her degree programme to realise it. Private investors have just invested three million Danish kroner in her company, and in a month the young entrepreneur will launch a beta version of what she describes as Spotify for study books. Photo: Maria Randima

Photo: Maria Randima

It was while Camilla Hessellund Lastein was studying business administration at AU that she came up with the idea of creating a kind of of Spotify for study books. It was May 2013 and she was in the midst of lots of group work before the exams, which involved lugging around books, computer and notes.

"It was really annoying having to lug it all around all the time. What’s more, I can’t stand things not working in the most optimal way. After all, we’ve got technology for that. If the study books had been e-books, I’d have a search function and could create an overview of my notes, and then I would be able to study much more systematically," says Camilla.

Subscribe to study books

She spent the subsequent summer holidays finding out whether or not there was a smarter solution than lugging expensive and heavy books around. But many of the textbooks she needed for her studies were not even available as e-books. That was when the idea of a subscription service arose, where students could subscribe to e-book versions of textbooks – in the same way as many subscribe to music on Spotify.

Quite a rush

Camilla began investigating publishing and the market for e-books, while continuing her studies. But in February 2014 she decided to drop her studies to work full-time on realising her idea.

"It gave me quite a rush when I pressed that ‘yes’ key and withdrew from the degree programme. I also felt social pressure – I mean, I was a bit worried about ending up as a failure. But once I’ve put my mind to something, I do it. I don’t operate with a plan B. As a rule, when you dedicate yourself so intensely to something and when you’re persistent, then things bear fruit."

Secured multi-million kroner investment

This looks like being the case for the 22-year-old entrepreneur. While she ended up having to close down her first company Unipegma, she has since built up the company Lix Technologies with the same concept. Now has just received DKK three million from private investors, which will be used to pay the seven employees in the company.

Aiming to land the major publishers

At the same time, she is working hard to get as many publishers as possible into her fold – starting at the top with the largest international publishers.

"We’re using the same business model as Spotify. They also began by signing up the largest record companies, and once they had them signed up, the smaller ones followed," she says.  

But it has not been that easy to convince publishers to allow their books to be included in a subscription service. One reason has been that publishers have previously had difficulty with security protection of e-books, which allowed them to make sure buyers didn’t simply redistribute the book to friends and acquaintances, explains Camilla, before continuing:

"In general, the international publishers are more willing than the Danish."

Beta version on the way

But Lix Technologies has over time secured hundreds of titles – with more on the way during 2015.

"Within the next six weeks we will add 4,500 new titles."

Camilla expects to be able to launch a beta version of the subscription service in a month. She explains:

"There will only be a few features such as the possibility of searching in the books and highlighting passages. But there will be a steady stream of new books during the next four months. We hope that by the spring semester, we’ll be able to offer students the opportunity to subscribe to a complete package of books matching their field of study. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to one hundred per cent cover the syllabus, because initially we only have books from the largest publishers, and because it’s hard to get adequate syllabus lists from all fields of study."

Subscribers have access to the books for as long as they subscribe. According to Camilla, her company is working on providing permanent access to a book, if you have subscribed to it for a whole semester.

"We're aiming to make it around thirty per cent cheaper to subscribe to the books compared to buying them."

Read more at lix.tech

Translated by Peter Lambourne

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