Pronoun, a self-publishing service for authors, is shutting down after promising free ebook distribution for authors. The company, which raised millions in funding and ended up being sold to Macmillan announced the shutdown in an email to authors and on its website.
Two years ago Pronoun set out to create a one-of-a-kind publishing tool that truly put authors first. We believed that the power of data could be harnessed for smarter book publishing, leveling the playing field for indie authors.
We are proud of the product we built, but even more so, we’re grateful for the community of authors that made it grow. Your feedback shaped Pronoun’s development, and together we changed the way authors connect with readers.
Unfortunately, Pronoun’s story ends here.
While many challenges in indie publishing remain unsolved, Macmillan is unable to continue Pronoun’s operation in its current form. Every option was considered before making the very difficult decision to end the business.
As of today, it is no longer possible to create a new account or publish a new book. Pronoun will be winding down its distribution, with an anticipated end date of January 15, 2018. Authors will still be able to log into their accounts and manage distributed books until that time.
For the next two months, our goal is to support your publishing needs through the holiday season and enable you to transition your books to other services. For more detail on how this will affect your books and payments, please refer to our FAQ.
The decision follows a long and arguably crazy mission to distribute and sell ebooks for free. The company started out as Vook, a service for creating complex and illustration-rich ebooks and slowly pivoted to its free model. Interestingly, the primary and best Pronoun feature for authors was its "free automated conversion tool that made absolutely beautiful ebooks."
"They were nicer-looking than most ebooks made by people," wrote Nate Hoffelder in The Digital Reader.
As the Internet moves away from the user-generated content model it will be interesting to see what other "free" content startups hit the skids.
This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.