Skip to main content
About HEC About HEC Faculty & Research Faculty & Research Master’s programs Master’s programs MBA Programs MBA Programs PhD Program PhD Program Executive Education Executive Education Summer School Summer School HEC Online HEC Online About HEC Overview Overview Who
We Are Who
We Are
Egalité des chances Egalité des chances Career
Center Career
International International Campus
Life Campus
Sustainability Sustainability Diversity
& Inclusion Diversity
& Inclusion
Stories Stories The HEC
Foundation The HEC
Coronavirus Coronavirus
Faculty & Research Overview Overview Faculty Directory Faculty Directory Departments Departments Centers Centers Chairs Chairs Knowledge Knowledge Master’s programs Master in
Management Master in
MSc International
Finance MSc International
Masters Specialized
programs X-HEC
programs Dual-Degree
students Visiting
Certificates Certificates Student
Life Student
Stories Student
MBA Programs MBA MBA Executive MBA Executive MBA TRIUM EMBA TRIUM EMBA PhD Program Overview Overview HEC Difference HEC Difference Program details Program details Research areas Research areas HEC Community HEC Community Placement Placement Job Market Job Market Admissions Admissions Financing Financing Executive Education Executive Masters Executive Masters Executive Certificates Executive Certificates Executive short programs Executive short programs Online Online Train your teams Train your teams Executive MBA Executive MBA Summer School Youth Programs Youth Programs Summer programs Summer programs HEC Online Overview Overview Degree Program Degree Program Executive certificates Executive certificates MOOCs MOOCs


Librinova: A Startup for Digital Innovation in Publishing

Entrepreneurship and Startups
Published on:
Updated on:
September 02nd, 2020

Bernard Garrette, professor of strategy at HEC Paris, talks about his case study “Librinova: a startup for digital innovation in publishing” and about how he self-published his own fiction stories.

Librinova Case self publisher - Bernard Garrette ©

Digital self-publishing platform

The Librinova case features a startup company operating as a self-publishing website for would-be authors. Laure Prételat and Charlotte Allibert, the two HEC Paris alumnae who founded Librinova have created a unique value proposition for amateur writers: in addition to offering top-notch self-publishing services, they act as literary agents for all self-published e-books that reach a 1,000-copy circulation through the Librinova platform. The most successful manuscripts therefore have a chance of being published by established publishing houses. The case takes place when Librinova goes for a third round of funding. The main question I ask students is whether they would invest in this company, which points to a more fundamental issue: Librinova’s growth potential. This leads to a discussion on Librinova’s business model and the opportunity to transform it into a “two-sided platform” on which writers and publishers could interact directly. 

How I became a self-published writer on Librinova

In 2016, I wrote a collection of twelve short stories illustrated with my own drawings and I set out to publish it. I quickly realized that sending my work to conventional publishers would lead me nowhere. Publishers receive tons of unsolicited manuscripts and publish only a tiny fraction of them. Even Harry Potter  was rejected by several publishers before Bloomsbury took it. Moreover, most publishers are reluctant to publish short stories because most readers prefer novels. To put it briefly, the average publisher would see my manuscript as a typical UFO – Unpublishable Foolish Occupation. The only option was digital self-publishing. This is how I discovered Librinova. A quick benchmarking exercise taught me that Librinova was the best self-publishing website in France. I published my book with them. It’s now available on amazon at a laughably low price. I found Librinova’s business model so interesting that I wrote a case study on the company.

How to solve business problems

Most students and executive education delegates like discussing case studies and learning about strategy frameworks from real-life experiences. The Librinova case is a nice example of how digitalization can transform a traditional value chain into a two-sided market. The same thing is happening in transportation with Uber or in accommodation with AirBnb. However, most students lack a rigorous problem-solving approach when they analyze cases. This led me to team up with my colleagues Olivier Sibony (HEC Paris) and Corey Phelps (McGill University) to create courses on problem-solving and to write a book on this topic, which is called: Cracked It! How to Solve Big Problems and Sell Solutions like Top Strategy Consultants. But I didn’t self-publish this one. Thank God, Palgrave Macmillan has accepted to publish it! 

Related content on Entrepreneurship and Startups

crowd and pitch - adobe
Human Resources

Gender Difference on Crowdfunding Platforms: What Pitches Work?

By Santosh Srinivas

black senior man working - adobe stock

©Wavebreak Media Micro on Adobe Stock 

Social Innovation

Yes, Social Entrepreneurship Training Works. Here Is How

By Thomas Åstebro, Florian Hoos

unemployment insurance for entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship and Startups

How Unemployment Insurance Can Foster Business Dynamism

By Johan Hombert

Subscribe button for Knowledhe@HEC newsletter

Newsletter knowledge

A monthly brief in your email box and 3 issues of the book per year.

follow us

Insights @HECParis School of #Management

Follow Us

Support Research

Our articles are produced thanks to our reader's support