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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.
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    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Is this how we'll read soon?

    Recently, I noted that I thought some of the social e-books sites (such as The Institute for the Future of the Book's 'Gamer Theory' e-book site) are more about the writing process than the reading of a published book.

    Now I have discovered (thanks to an if:book post, unbound reader) that another organisation has been working on an e-book model which is both ALL about reading and about reading socially. The Book Glutton blog, Frontmatters, has announced the beta version of Book Glutton with a short 'How it Works' YouTube video. And very impressive it looks too... at a glance, I would suggest that they have got at least some of the visual semiotics right.
    The Unbound Reader... has a web-based format where users can read and discuss the book right inside the text... It also has shared annotations, so people can leave a comment on any paragraph and other readers can respond.
    Centre-screen is a facsimile book page with simple and straightforward tools for navigation from book section to section or from page to page; to left and right of the page are slide-out bars which transform into a discussion tool linked to the page being read (left) and a note taker (right). You can share your notes or have your discussion with anyone and everyone reading or with friends or groups. A group could consist of your class mates; a reading group; or strangers brought together by th ebook and a particular interest. Book Glutton note that they are:
    working to facilitate adoption of on-line reading. Book design is an important aspect of the reader, and it incorporates design elements, like dynamic dropcaps. Moreover, the works presented in the catalog are standards-based (BookGlutton is an early adopter of the International Digital Publishing Forum's .epub format for ebooks), and allows users to download a copy of anything they upload in this format for use elsewhere.
    I think we might be getting there! Watch the video! This is - assuming that it makes it out of beta - certainly something to watch. It seems to be easy to use and rich in user tools that match the way the Google-/Facebook-generation work on the web. My only adverse comment so far is the need to scroll within each page.

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