Reading Is Fundamental

One of Copia's creators, Anthony Antolino, calls it "the first social e-reading experience." Rolling out in late March, the platform combines "digital content, social networking - community and collaboration tools - together with a very large and diverse bookstore." In fact, Antolino says that the depth of Copia's bookstore might rival Amazon's. Which is just one thing that separates Copia's line of e-readers from the Kindle, and myriad devices about to flood the market. It's also a store, a Facebook-connected social network, and an e-reading platform.

Copia is platform agnostic, Antolino and Dave Nelson, UX planner at VML, who led the interface design team for Copia, tell OMMA. Use it on your laptop, use it on one of Copia's readers, use it on your phone, use it on your iPad. Tackling the task of ensuring that the experience, which is designed to be adaptive and deliver optimal performance across all of these, came first for Nelson. And in so doing, he and his team built into the system some of the fundamental joys of reading, taking into account the way people read and interact with books and each other. Sure, annotation features and highlighting are present (as on the Kindle), but so is the ability to share passages, quotes and notes with friends or the public (via the Copia community and Facebook or Twitter, whereas similar communities such as Goodreads exist in isolation; "the world doesn't need another social network," says Antolino), and slice and dice the content any way the readers see fit.

The storefront, the community and reading experience all integrate in ways where friends' ratings and the community rank aid the shopping and discovery experience, shopping fills your virtual bookshelves (which is not limited to titles purchased via Copia), and notes augment the reading experience. Educational institutions are a focus of Copia. Colleges can opt to use white-label versions to connect classmates and professors, or can instead integrate into the system at large. Another white-label application is for publishers, who may choose to use a branded version as a virtual storefront.

The parent company, DMC, is a consumer electronics manufacturer that has been at this since the first digital watch - the technology for which it licensed from NASA - and in producing an e-reader, started with creating a market and an audience, and then moved to making a device (which on the low end costs as little as $200). Besides sales from hardware, white-label versions, and books, an ad model is not far off. And Copia's got its sights set on more than just books, with newspaper and magazine versions in the works, as well as talks with a comic-book company underway, and applications in music and movies possible. And once Copia gets going, Antolino sees it extending beyond even that, speaking of the breadth of human knowledge, history and experience, and the chance to make tools to parse and add to it.

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