Ingram’s Investment Arm Leads $1M Funding For E-Book Gifting And Marketing Startup Livrada

Livrada, a company developing new types of e-book gift cards, has raised a seed round of funding. Combined with earlier support from friends and family, the company has now raised a total of $1 million.

The startup’s first products were gift cards for specific e-book titles sold in Target and other stores. So if you want to buy something for a bookworm friend who’s embraced e-reading, you can essentially give them a specific book, not just a generic gift card to Amazon or the iBookstore.

“We all know there is a strong culture around book gift giving that has persisted for centuries,” CEO Leonard Chen told me via email. “Most of this experience is lost in e-books.”

Livrada just launched a new product which it calls e-Book Cards for Authors. This creates an easy way for writers to promote themselves and sell e-books while doing real-world events. So if a writer does a reading at a bookstore, they can sell cards that are redeemed for e-book copies. The company points out that this could be particularly useful for self-published authors.

As someone whose default gift (both giving and receiving) is books, I really like the concept, but I did wonder whether it was ambitious enough to turn Livrada into a big company. Chen countered:

First of all, the overall book market in the US for 2012 is $14Bn (according to Jeremy Greenfield of Digital Book World); this includes both e- and print. One of our goals is to become one major way that people browse, discover, gift, and buy books. Period.

We start with cards, which help bridge the gap between physical and digital. We can evolve into other in-store or digital solutions as well.

He also noted that Livrada could expand to include other types of media, like film, music and games.

And the company has already gotten some nice validation from the book world, with ICG Ventures, the investment arm of top book distributor Ingram Content Group, leading the round. Angel investors Thomas Lehrman (founder of the Gerson Lehrman Group), William Hsu, and Shawn Yeh also participated.