Cassandra Neace, blogger at Indie Reader Houston, writes about how ebooks have promoted active participation in reading and explains how Copia, an eBook community, is promoting that very principle.
Building an eBook
The digital age has
made the world a smaller place. It was not all that long ago that a
reader who wanted to reach out to an author had to do so by writing a
letter, sending it to the publisher, and hoping that it would
eventually get read. These days, anyone who has a question can send
an email or Tweet, if not at the author directly, then his editor or
publicist or neighbor. The options are endless, and the odds are
increasingly good that said reader will get a response. Reading is no
longer a solitary act.
A new community has
emerged, and as with any community, the key to making sure that
everyone benefits is active participation. The author who interacts
with his audience gains readers. He earns their loyalty. They will
keep coming back because they feel connected to him and what he is
writing. For the author whose works are available as eBooks, there
exists the opportunity to benefit even further.
is a site that is devoted to building a community of eBook readers.
It does so by offering readers of eBooks a forum for discussion. The
difference between what they offer, however, and something like
Goodreads, is that the eBook is actually a part of the discussion.
Seth Kaufman, VP of
Marketing & Merchandising, describes Copia as “a new, more
interactive way to read a book. It is a big step in the evolution of
what an eBook can be.”
The social networking
experience offered by Copia is more complete than that of similar
sites. Copia sells eBooks, which can be read on the Copia Reader or
any of the Copia Apps. Readers can make notes as they read, then
share those notes with other readers.
Authors can also take
advantage of this feature and share annotated texts, giving them a
chance to share what they were really thinking when they wrote a
particularly difficult passage or what they would have liked to have
said instead, had the editor not convinced them to make the change.
The best part, for many
readers, is that they finally have an answer to the question “What
was he thinking?” Recently, Unbridled Books offered a free version
of their Spring 2011 release Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb
by George Rabasa. This edition, exclusive to Copia, was annotated by
the author. While he included the expected notes on plot, there were
also notes on hypothermia and a mini-history of malls, information
that brought added satisfaction to the reader. Better still, readers
are able to discuss their reactions to both the book and the
annotations in the online forum.
As a result of this
community, the book becomes a living document, one where the text
remains intact but is enriched by the flow of new ideas, commentary,
and collaboration. Kaufman describes it as “almost like building a
wiki” and sees endless possibilities for non-fiction works: “With
cookbooks, someone can make the note to substitute this or share
their grandmother’s version of the recipe, because, of course, she
did it better. In travel guides, people can comment or make
corrections. The text is kept up to date, and the author gets a head
start on updating the text for later editions.”
For authors, the
possibilities are endless. Instead of hearing the standard “I
loved your book, especially the part where…” or “I don’t
think this was one of your best…,” they get detailed feedback on
the work they produce – and the chance to make it better.
It has been said that
no piece of writing is ever really done. It just gets to the point
where it can be published. Copia allows authors to keep tweaking the
text and sharing it with their readers long after the publication
date. Books no longer have to sit on shelf and get dusty. They can
find new life online.
Neace lives happily in Houston, Texas, where she writes about books -
reading them, writing them, buying them, and sharing them with
others. She blogs at Indie