Press Release
Frankfurt am Main,

BotTalk and READ-O are the Content Startups of 2021

Two startups share the Content Shift Accelerator first place and the innovation prize of 10,000 euro | Sponsorship programme for startups to be continued in 2022 | Companies from the industry can sponsor the programme and take up a place on the jury

New innovation champions: The German startups BotTalk and READ-O were named the "Content Startups of the Year 2021" at the Frankfurt Book Fair today. They share first place in the Börsenverein Group's sponsorship programme.

Their business ideas:

  • BotTalk converts text into an audio format at the touch of a button – and thus not only saves publishers the costs for speakers, but also makes texts accessible and easy to use on the go.
  • READ-O uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse book reviews on the internet to find out what people felt when reading a book. The app provider uses this information to generate reading recommendations for potential book customers. READ-O is also incorporating this information into a new project with the technology and information provider MVB. There, it will be merged with the MVB's new classification of books – the "reading rationales", which describe the subconscious customer needs that prompt people to buy books.

In today's final round, the two startups came out on top with their pitches against the other finalists. A total of 44 startups from ten countries applied for this year's competition. The winners will share the innovation prize of 10,000 euro.

Jury spokesman Olaf Carstens (Cornelsen Verlag) explained the jury's decision:

"We decided to award first place to two startups as they address very different yet equally important topics in the industry: BotTalk has the potential to give the trending topic of 'voice' a substantial boost in the book industry with its business model. This startup offers publishers a smart text-to-speech solution 'made in Germany' away from Amazon and Google, which can be implemented in an uncomplicated, professional manner while also offering a highly competitive price. This simplifies the format change for readers and makes the book accessible in various life situations. READ-O, on the other hand, convinced us with a concept that counteracts the loss of readers: Their recommendation algorithm based on needs-oriented metadata opens up a new level of accuracy and content quality in book recommendations. This will enable the industry to rekindle enthusiasm for reading and increase reading frequency. We will also be keeping a close eye on the next steps planned by READ-O, which are intended to create a digital community platform for books by expanding the app's features".

In addition to BotTalk and READ-O, the following startups also made it to the final round and were able to benefit from the individual mentoring of the jury and other experienced experts in the industry:

  • Buuk: Helps to improve the digital presentation of books using metadata and market analyses and to increase their findability online.
  • DayOff: Trains soft skills via web-based microlearning – collaboratively and with incentives such as extra days of holiday.
  • talking hands: Flipbooks which, thanks to their illustrations, make it possible to learn sign language in a playful way.

The members of this year’s jury included: Olaf Carstens (Cornelsen Publishing House), Detlef Büttner (Lehmanns Media Specialist Bookstore), Dr. Leif Göritz (Thalia Bookstore), Dr. Stephan Dietrich (Junfermann Publishing House), Sabine Haag (Wiley-VCH Publishing House), Ronald Schild (MVB), Karin Schmidt-Friderichs (Börsenverein) as well as Deepa Gautam-Nigge (SAP Next-Gen Innovation Network) as a partner of the programme from outside the industry.

The Content Shift Accelerator will be continued in 2022. Companies can participate as investors which gives them a place on the jury and exclusive access to all the startups that apply.

The Content Shift Accelerator, along with the Content Shift Startup Club, is part of the Börsenverein Group's Content Shift initiative, which promotes innovation and new business models in the book and media industry.

Website with full details of the sponsorship programme and the participating startups in 2021:

Additional Information

Hashtag: #cosh21

Materials to Download

About the Content Shift Accelerator

Alongside the Content Shift start-up club and the Icebreaker Events, the Content Shift accelerator is part of the Börsenvereinsgruppe's Content Shift initiative, which promotes innovation and new business models in the book and media industry. | | |

About the Börsenvereinsgruppe

The Börsenvereinsgruppe (Group of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association) represents the interests of Germany's book industry and provides its members with advisory and practical services. The group comprises the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers and Booksellers Association) and its business subsidiaries, which include Frankfurter Buchmesse and MVB mediacampus frankfurt as well as the Holding Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels Beteiligungsgesellschaft. The Börsenvereinsgruppe supports the book industry and media sector by providing professional services that include advocacy, the organisation of cultural projects, tradeshows, training programmes and publishing and technology services.

About MVB

Technology and information provider MVB makes books visible. Major platforms, based on international metatdata standards, enable publishers and bookstores to promote their products successfully and efficiently in their home markets and abroad. Editorial and advertising formats as well as face-to-face networking give orientation in different book markets. In close cooperation with customers and market players from all areas of the book industry, the teams located in Frankfurt am Main, Mexico City, New York and São Paulo continuously work on innovative Infrastructure solutions for the book trade of the future.


Thomas Koch | Head of Public Relations Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels
Tel.: +49 69 1306-293

Markus Fertig | PR Manager MVB
Tel.: +49 69 1306-374 | Fax: +49 69 1306-17374