When you think about the last book that you read, chances are that it was recommended to you by someone - perhaps a friend read it first and suggested you read it too. It was once the done thing when in a friend’s house to take a look at their bookshelves and then if a particular book took your fancy, ask if you could borrow it. Of course with the rise in popularity of e-readers, such things tend not to happen any more. However, thanks to this week’s Startup of the Week, that could all change.
Ownshelf is a cloud based bookshelf which allows you to store and share your ebooks across devices.
Currently still in beta, Ownshelf allows users to let friends see each others’ digital bookshelves and borrow and lend books from them. Basically a user can upload any epub ebook to their shelf and this can be accessed by their select group of personal friends. Since the Ownshelf tool is accessed through Facebook, it is easy to see which of your friends are using it and what books they have uploaded or added to their own shelf. The addition of this social sharing element is what helps make Ownshelf unique.
Also, although other platforms such as Kindle and Nook do allow their users to ‘lend’ books, this is generally only for a defined limited time period and there are no such restrictions with Ownshelf. The only real restriction currently is the type of books that can be shared - all books must be free to share i.e. freely in the public domain or freely available under a Creative Commons licence. This restriction is not however a bad thing, since it has the content creator’s interests at heart and is protecting their copyright and related rights.
There can be no denying that the e-reader is here to stay and is bound to help spawn a plethora of innovative startups like this one. At the end of the day, if ereaders and services like Ownshelf encourage more of us to read, that can only be a good thing - something I’m sure even the most ardent traditionalist would have to agree with.