Today I take great pleasure in introducing you to Book Glutton–a very cool site that celebrates and enhances the community aspect of reading, bringing the real-world conversations that occur around books online, and literally into the books themselves. The Book Glutton reader–dubbed the “Unbound Reader”– is built entirely on open web standards, is free to use, and allows both shared comments and real-time chatting on a chapter-by-chapter basis.
Book Glutton is fairly simple to use. Clicking on a title from the site’s catalog opens a book right in the browser. Once inside, there are two ways readers can participate in the Book Glutton community:chat and annotations. Visitors and members at Book Glutton can form their own reading groups, join existing reading groups, or just read from the available titles on their own. The layout, design, and usability are gorgeously thought-out, and the joy of sharing thoughts within the books is a truly cool experience.
Further building on their vision of design cultivating community, Book Glutton recently debuted a reading widget that allows for distributed reading. Via the widget, each book in Book Glutton’s catalog can easily be embedded virtually anywhere on the web. All functionality of the reader including membership capabilities stay with the book itself and will transport with the widget.
Book Glutton co-founder and president Travis Alber likens the reading widget to “what youtube did for videos — making it easy and no more need to have plugins, etc.. You can put a book on your blog or put it on your friend’s blog.” Apparently the widget is a hit, and has gone universal. Says Travis, “There has been quite a bit of international usage, despite the fact most of our content is in English. We’ve seen universities, reading groups and readers install it for all kinds of reasons.”
Next on the agenda for Book Glutton: partnering with publishers to offer more contemporary and original content for readers, along with marketing and sales opportunities for publishers. Just last week they announced they’d be teaming up with Random House to offer excerpts of the forthcoming book “Sacred Hearts,” as well as “in the book” annotations by author Sarah Dunant:
The partnership with Random House is really exciting. First, it shows a true interest in using the internet to take the book to the next level. Offering a preview where people can get to know the book, the author, and each other is a great way to sell a book – even a hardback copy. Second, the ability to connect with the author online while reading the book is a powerful thing. For Sacred Hearts, the author, Sarah Dunant, added comments about how she felt about the characters, what she did for research, and how she felt about that period in time to paragraphs. Readers can respond to those comments; likewise the author can see questions from readers. It adds depth to the reading experience.
I encourage you all to check out Book Glutton. As always, we’d also love to hear your thoughts on the “social” side of reading. Do you participate in Book Clubs? Do you or would you be interested in online Book Clubs? How do you integrate technology into your book communities?
And, stay tuned for Pt. 3 of “Virtual Ways to Connect Around Books” – Adaptive Blue’s Glue.