Berlin start-up Readmill, is providing a platform for eBooks that connects readers regardless of what platform they are using. Readmill’s core offering is a free bookreader that competes head to head with Amazon’s and Apple’s offerings. Unlike other eReaders, Readmill is based on a device-neutral, API-driven platform that integrates social recommendations, annotations and geolocation services.
The platform enables you to see what friends and connections are currently reading, read their reviews and annotations and share your own. Readmill is attempting to restore many of the social activities that surround and support reading in an open platform. While sharing is a key differentiator, the platform also allows users to store notes and keep reading information private.
“Our goal is to be on every device where people read. It might not be in-device integrations but it should at least be possible to import data, “ says Breggren. “Right now we only support DRM-free content but that might change in the future, especially through our partners,” he added.
From a design perspective, Readmill is also unique because the design has no references to traditional paper or other book mnemonics such as wooden bookshelves or flipping pages that resemble paper. The user experience is completely designed for an eReader environment and sharing and other extended functions are available on page.
One advantage of Readmill’s open architecture is that reading activity can be tracked across devices. This enables the consolidation of user activity data, such as where and when users are reading.
Readmill’s initial offering is free, but Berggren believes that Readmill can build a path to profitability by marketing its aggregated data. Publishers currently only have access to delayed sales information. With the highly articulated, real-time data that Readmill will be collecting, he believes it can become an essential source of data to the publishing industry.
Co-founder Henrik Berggren saw their opportunity when a colleague shared a densely annotated copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Berggren realized that sharing annotations and recommendations was a critical component in the life of books that wasn’t getting the attention is deserved in the fragmented eBook market.