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Circa Breaks Free From Mobile, Brings Its Personalized News Digest To The Web

TechCrunch

Circa, a mobile news reader for iOS and Android which, to date, has focused on offering users short, easily digestible news stories that allow you to more quickly consume news while on the go, is making a notable change to its service today: it’s expanding to the web. On a new website at CircaNews.com, the company is taking its summarized news stories to the big screen in an effort to cater to users’ “mobile lifestyles,” the company says, rather than just delivering its content to their mobile devices.

That is, the idea with the web version of Circa is to offer users a way to read the news in brief as they move in between their devices – laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone. While Circa’s apps are meant to be read as you have a few minutes of downtime and are away from your PC, the website version of the…

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YC-Backed Open Listings Enables Home Buyers To Purchase Houses Without Real Estate Agents

TechCrunch

Open Listings is a startup fresh out of the current Y Combinator batch that’s easing the home buying process by letting people move forward without real estate agents.

Because two-thirds of the overall residential market involves repeat buyers, some people may not want to rely on agents because they’re already familiar with what to do. So instead, Open Listings will refund the 3 percent agent commission, which can amount to tens of thousands of dollars here in California, and charge a flat fee instead. It’s basically a self-service platform with on-demand human experts.

Their belief is that the Internet is diminishing the role of the real estate agent by making it a lot easier to find homes, but commissions are getting out of control as they rise with the overall (insane) cost of real estate. (I’m mostly referring to California, which is Open Listings’ first market and makes up about 15 percent of…

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YC-Backed Booktrope Rethinks Book Publishing

TechCrunch

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably heard horror stories about the publishing industry — books that are rejected by publisher after publisher, books that sit in submission piles for years, books that are published but basically disappear without publisher support.

At the same time, self-publishing has its risks for authors, too. You could end up paying a lot of your own money to an editor and/or a designer, and if you don’t, you could end up with a poorly edited book and a lame cover that looks, well, self-published.

So Booktrope, part of the current class of startups at Y Combinator, is taking a different approach. On one level, Booktrope is a publisher itself, but one that allows authors to go around the gatekeepers of traditional publishing while still working with a professional team.

Chief Marketing Officer Katherine Sears said that she and her co-founders don’t come from the…

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Labels start making more money from streaming than downloads

Gigaom

Streaming is starting to overtake digital downloads as a source of revenue for independent labels, according to a new blog post from British indie music heavyweight PIAS (hat tip to Hypebot). The company, which runs a couple of indie labels itself but also provides funding and distribution services to other indies, saw higher revenues from streaming than downloads in 24 markets last year, including countries like France, the Netherlands and Spain.

The transition seems to be a little slower in bigger markets like the U.K.. Here’s how PIAS commercial operations manager James Howdle put it:

“I certainly expect streaming will overtake downloads in the next two years in the UK market. It’s hard to say how that will then compare to physical CDs, which continue to be the biggest single format for driving revenue in the territory … I think we will reach a point of equilibrium where physical…

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