Jason Illian is the Founder and CEO of Rethink Books, a dynamic social e-book company which focuses on connecting people around books. Their flagship technology, Bookshout!, allows people to read together, engaging and interacting around content across multiple devices and platforms. Jason is a published author and nationally-renown speaker. Jason has presented at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference, the Credit Suisse Global Media and Communications Convergence Conference, and hundreds of other organizations. He has been featured on ABC, The New York Times, and done numerous radio interviews, from Mancow to Laura Ingraham. He has authored two published books, including a first-mover book called MySpace MyKids, which helped parents understand and navigate the world of social networks. With more than 10 years of technology and executive experience, Jason Illian is a visionary in the mobile and social new media space. Having raised over $35 million for new business ventures, Jason has a passion for taking great ideas and making them businesses. His strategic thinking has helped corporations, organizations, non-profits, churches, and leaders be more innovative.
AHD: Favorite Dallas hangout?
JI: My house. As a father of three kids and a CEO who travels extensively, there is nothing better than hanging out at the house with my family.
AHD: What is the basic aim of Bookshout!, and where’d the idea come from?
JI: My wife and her friends were having a small group Bible study and they couldn’t figure out a good way to share notes, ask questions, and read together virtually. After hearing this, I started asking around and I learned that classes wanted to collaboratively learn, corporations wanted to measure the progress of their employees, and friends wanted to read together…so we built a social reading platform, called Bookshout!
AHD: Will you tell us a little bit about Bookshout!?
JI: It’s really quite simple--we connect people around books. Our platform, Bookshout!, allows people to read together or alone, sharing their notes and highlights across different devices and platforms. It works on Apple devices and the web, with Android devices coming at the beginning of October.
AHD: So much of your work seems to be about bridging the gap between content and the social network. How do you think increased engagement will change the way we read?
JI: We already engage around books--we just don’t do it in a digital way. When we read a good book, we are constantly telling our friends about it. Or if we are in a class or corporation, we are learning together. We just figured out a smooth digital way to learn from the teacher AND each other, and a way to do it virtually. “Social” may be the wrong term when it comes to books--it may be more about being “collaborative”.
AHD: You readily admit you don’t have all the answers for what a digital book can be. Nobody does. How exciting is it to be working in such a dynamic industry, and how do you focus your efforts to make sure you stay ahead of the curve?
JI: We ask lots of questions and work very hard. Innovators don’t create the wave; they just make the perfect surfboard to ride it. So it is about timing--giving yourself the best opportunity of success by being well researched and prepared.
AHD: How important is creativity in your day-to-day operations?
JI: Critical. It is a fundamental part of our day-to-day process. I think of every member of our team, whether they are on the business, technical or creative side, as an innovator. I want (and expect) to hear new ideas from everyone. It allows the best ideas to be voiced regularly and allows all of us to have ownership in the final product.
AHD: Bookshout! offices out of Dallas. How has the creative community in Dallas helped you to make apps like Bookshout! possible?
JI: Many people believe it is impossible to create an innovative and disruptive company outside of the Bay area. We are proving otherwise. All of our creative and technical talent lives in Dallas and is proud to call it home.
AHD: How can we get the new app, and where can we go to keep up with Bookshout happenings?
JI: You can download the Bookshout! app in the app store or check out our web presence at www.bookshout.com.
Don't miss Jason at Dinner with Friends: Digital Publishing. He will be speaking about the pros and cons of digital publishing, help provide clarity into the current state of the industry, and give you practical steps to take as a writer in order to get to the next level. Find more information and registration HERE.