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Creating a home for books and authors

Where readers gain access to life-changing conversations

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

While its well understood that books change lives, we nonetheless lack a dedicated home for discovering and exploring books with the authors of those very books which changed our perspective, outlook, or approach to living well.

Education is too important to stay the way it is

Degreed was founded in 2012. It grew to be the largest database on skills, how they are acquired, where they are learned. Degreed continues to enjoy tremendous success, now has over 500 employees, offices in Amsterdam, London, New York, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Brisbane, and is used by a third of the Fortune 200, helping those organizations understand their people, how their people are learning, what skills they have, what they need to succeed in their work. It goes further, considering a business’s vision and asking questions like ‘How do we close the gap?’ It’s all about skills.

I took the Executive Chairman role at Degreed about three years ago to build It’s an idea we grew and hope to continue to see grow. But we weren’t able to sustain the fundraising to operate it full time.

So last fall I began to explore a handful of ideas.

One of those ideas was BookClub.

The key insights that led to BookClub

BookClub came from two insights I noticed while building Degreed:

We still learn more from books than anything else

The #1 way people learn is through books. Yes, books! More than articles, more than videos, conferences, or even college. By an order of magnitude. Books simply play a huge role in a person’s lifelong education.

Democratizing experts’ knowledge gives access to more learners

We’ve seen this before. Choose a category of experts. Give those experts a platform to share what they know, so their expertise might be scaled to learners.

Here are three examples:

  • Coursera democratized college courses: College professors teach courses where they are subject-matter experts. Where does a student go when she realizes she wants to learn from a particular professor of machine learning? She goes to Coursera.
  • Pluralsight democratized tech skills: Technology leaders teaching the latest skills. A software engineer wants to add Angular to his skill stack. How does he do it? He logs into Pluralsight.
  • Masterclass democratized life skills: Learn how to make scrambled eggs from Gordon Ramsey, or how to tell a story from Neil Gaiman.

These are categories of experts, a place for experts to communicate, and access to infinite consumption by anyone in the world.

But what is the largest category of experts?

Books and authors.

It’s time to democratize access to the knowledge in books through their authors, the experts.

A home for books and authors, where readers know to find them

BookClub provides author-led, virtual book clubs. Degreed has given us data and insights on how millions of people learn, and one of our biggest takeaways is this, that for all of the innovation in MOOCs, upskilling bootcamps, and eLearning, people still learn more from reading books than by any other means…by a lot. We want to give that learning a proper home, led by the experts themselves, the authors.

And when a reader wants to interact with a book, an author, and the conversation around the ideas and content in a book, BookClub is the place for that. With access to learning resources centered on a particular book and author, readers can even go deeper: they might find other people who are studying those books and learn alongside them, going together on a path toward life-changing conversations.



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David Blake

David Blake

Co-founder & Executive Chairman of Degreed and managing partner of The Future of Work Studios.