Ebooks have much to offer in terms of convenience: Downloads are instantaneous (and increasingly cheap
), title lists are endless, and hyperlinks do the hard work
of dictionary and encyclopedia cross-referencing. But for traditionalists
, the ebook remains inferior to its tangible equivalent, even in spite of its technological advances
. New platforms are attempting to enhance ebooks’ potential with improved options for reader engagement.
One of the drawbacks of a wholehearted conversion to ebooks is the loss of the personal library, without which spontaneous title browsing and recommendation-making among friends is less likely to occur. Ownshelf
aims to keep this tradition alive by replicating the physical library in digital space. The platform essentially provides a Dropbox
-esque storage space where users can upload their complete ebooks—preferably, fair use ones
—to build a shareable “ebookshelf.” Members can then browse and borrow from their friends’ e-libraries as easily as if they were picking physical books off a shelf, perpetuating the social element of physical book-share culture.
Put Me In the Story:
A recent study by Scholastic
revealed that the percentage of kids who have read an ebook has nearly doubled (from 25 to 46%) since 2010—but also that most kids still prefer physical books when it comes to bedtime stories or sharing with friends. Independent publisher Sourcebooks
hopes to overcome this persisting bias with Put Me In the Story
, a new app that personalizes children’s ebooks to create a more meaningful, immersive bedtime reading experience. The app integrates young readers' names and images throughout popular picture books
and adds layers of interactivity to keep kids fully engaged.
Forthcoming subscription-based ebook app Oyster
hopes to do for reading what streaming music platforms
have done for listening. Subscribers will be able to pay a recurring fee for unlimited access to a vast library of ebooks, from which they can choose titles to save to their own personal collections for reading now or returning to later. The app will facilitate the discovery of unexpected works, and we expect it will feature a social element
(akin to that of Spotify
) to encourage peer-to-peer sharing. Mashable reports
that the app will be designed with smartphones in mind, essentially putting readers’ libraries permanently into their pockets.