On the cusp of their first product launch, Chicago-based start-up Italic Type is set to offer a significant facelift to the internet’s landscape of social media for book lovers. In 2018, co-founder and CEO Emily Achler, then a director of marketing and communications at nonprofit impact investor Clean Energy Trust, was looking for the perfect platform for reading-related time management. She couldn’t find one, and so Italic Type was born to fill the void. “My co-founder and I built this product from the perspective of avid readers who wanted something better than what was available,” says Achler.
The team is small—four people, including Achler, who work on the platform part-time while supporting themselves and Italic Type as freelancers. “When we looked at the landscape for other book community platforms, we found options that were dominated by outdated user interfaces (UI), bloated with features that didn’t seem necessary, and were cluttered with ads and information from a lot of other unknown or untrusted users,” Achler says. The team consequently built their vision around creating an uncluttered app that focuses on minute design details and the quality rather than quantity of features.
A sneak peek at the beta version of Italic Type shows that they have delivered on this vision, building a platform crafted with much care. Within a clean interface, users can add books to sections labelled “Currently Reading,” “Completed,” “Paused” and “Queue.” Each book added to the user’s library comes with a page to store notes, ideas and quotes, making it a handy tool for researchers and pleasure readers alike. With an emphasis on creating a space for friends and family to come together and discuss the books they’re reading, Italic Type also offers the ability to create dedicated group reading rooms, making it a great space for socially distant book clubs. What is more, instead of basing Italic Type’s income on affiliate links with larger conglomerates, Achler plans to prioritize relationships with smaller book-based institutions, partnering with local stores and working with libraries.