Los Angeles-based bookish tech startup Small Demons will close its doors Nov. 25, it has told publishers, unless a last-minute buyer is found. The U.K.'s Bookseller reports Small Demons had been in negotiations with an international buyer, but those talks fell through.
Small Demons was founded by Valla Valkili, a Yahoo! veteran, who had a vision for showing the connections between books and the real world. Visually engaging, the Small Demons catalogs the places, music, food and drink, people, books, artworks and other objects that appear in a single book -- then links them to the other books in which they appear.
The Small Demons page for David Foster Wallace’s massive 1996 novel “Infinite Jest” includes hundreds of references. Click on the picture of one of the items that appears in the book -- say, the Sony Walkman -- and see how many other books mention a Walkman (672). It even shows a relevant passage.
Small Demons was set up for e-commerce -- you can download all the music mentioned in Patti Smith’s memoir “Just Kids” from iTunes, for example. It’s also built for off-line exploration. If you want to experience everything in Michael Connelly’s “Angels Flight,” you’d know to head over to Hollywood Park racetrack ... which itself appears in a dozen books cataloged on the site.
The interrelationships get dizzying, and the content is encyclopedic, with short descriptions of everything that appears. The company had raised $2 million in funding, and had been in talks with an international tech company that stalled. It will close its doors Nov. 25 -- unless someone else steps forward with an offer between now and then.