Quotations book – Web 2.0 business models and designing a Web 2.0 site

I met Amit Kothari, founder of Quotations Book when we were both interviewed by Robert Scoble for the Scoble show. He had just launched his site and we discussed some ideas around it. Quotations book is an interesting site for two reasons: It’s a Web 2.0 site from the ground up and Amit set it up for less than £20,000 (which is roughly around $40,000).

Here is a synopsis of his site and what I learned from it in an interview format

How did you got the idea?

The site has been active for several years in a previous incarnation. The original site had thousands of visitors a day and RSS feeds of content – which was used by answers.com for syndication. However – it lacked community and a real interactivity based on the focal point – which is quotations. I was looking to deepen my interest in quotations, understand the domain in a simple way, and then create a new venture based on various lessons learned.

What is the unique selling point?

The site is the only one that currently uses the data at Project Gutenberg to provide context to literary quotations – from the most popular books in Western literature. In terms of our general domain, there has been hardly any innovative activity in the area of quotable text content – we are the first to address this important problem. At the Future of Web Apps in London (February 2007) – where we talked about quotationsbook – various people saw a very significant missing piece of richness on the web, simpler than video or photos – which we are addressing. Comments from a couple of people are on our press page

What is your strategy?

We are guided somewhat by our users, but our plan going forward is outlined very briefly on our blog , where updates in the future can also be tracked -

How have you publicised your idea?

At present, our core visitor base is stable and increasing – a legacy from the old site. We’re still building a lot of features, and hope to kick off press and promotion activities in the future. We sponsored and spoke at the Future of Web Apps in February too.

What are your biggest challenges?

The most significant problem we faced is within the content system – since users adding their own quotes poses difficult problems which is very different to adding user generated video or photos. There are issues about accuracy, and how the community can contribute to spotting them – and also problems around attribution – in that sources are often not entirely web-based or reliable. The community process and conversations that are not subjective are the most difficult to handle, because we have to create a process to report inaccuracies not simply to us, but to the owner of the quote (the person that added it). It would suffice to say that discussing the accuracy and context of a quote in a group, even in the real world, is a fairly difficult problem!

What is your revenue model?

We don’t intend to have ads as far as possible. Current revenue generating ideas include chargeable mobile content services, as well as printing books of your favourite quotes. There are far larger plans ahead that I can’t disclose but would potentially have disruptive potential as solid business models. Once we have an API, an interesting observation to make is that it assists any other ventures – in that quotes do not have to be tied tightly into any subsidiary venture we decide to create. Depending on our growth and its geographical bias, we hope to introduce our users to activities in the real world, especially in London and the UK.