Lars Damgaard
strategic user experience designer
February 3rd 2013

Readmill: the social ebook reading experience

I recently discovered Readmill, which is an interesting and extremely welldesigned app that attempts to add a social layer to your ebook reading experience.

readmill

The concept is very simple. You sign up using Facebook or twitter. You follow other people in order to discover new things to read and in order to share and comment highlights. You upload your existing ebooks to Readmill, storing them in the cloud and when you start or finish reading something, Readmill posts it on your Facebook timeline, simulating a digital “coffee table effect”. Furthermore, Readmill let’s you highlight parts of the book, making it easier to remember important or interesting parts and to share them with other people. It all works like a charm and I really enjoy the simple, flat and extremely delicate interface design.

I have too few ebooks

My only problem is that I don’t have enough ebooks! Whenever I feel like reading a new fiction book, I turn to my physical bookshelves to look for the book someone gave for my birthday last year or the ones that I received from my book club (wonder how anachronistic that will sound in a not so distant future) that I haven’t read yet or the ones I have bought and still buy for myself every now and then.

In other words: I have books in abundance. But not ebooks. So far, the only book I have read on Readmill was Smashing Magazine’s mobile book – actually I read the most of it in iBooks and the rest in Readmill, because I discovered Readmill too late, but that’s besides the point. The problem is simple: I don’t own any ebooks worth reading, but I own hundreds of physical books that are worth reading.

Readmill: please become the Spotify of books

I wish Readmill (or someone else for that matter) would create a Spotify for books. I never became a big fan of buying music in Itunes, but the second Spotify came along, I happily ignored the vast amounts I had spent on music throughout the last twenty years. It didn’t matter anymore because Spotify gave me access to all the music I already owned and at the same time gave me access to all future music and above all: it provided a fantastic user experience design across all my digital devices.

This is what I would want the future of books to be like. I would happily pay (even a relatively high) monthly fee in order to get access to the same abundance of books that Spotify offers when it comes to music. And abundance and availability of content really is the key here: if I were to start reading fiction books on a digital platform, I would need to have a very, very wide selection of content. Furthermore I would want to be able to read books in the original language, especially when it comes to Scandinavian authors, which it often does for me.

However, my guess is that there is a huge (though probably really complicated) business case in delivering such a service to a global audience. Hopefully someone will try and succeed. Hopefully it will be Readmill, because they already have a fantastic product, they just need the content. Perhaps such a concept already exists, but looking around on google didn’t give me that impression.

If you want to follow me on Readmill, here is my public profile, but don’t expect too much activity. I still need more ebooks!

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