With the growth of eBooks and eReading, it is very difficult for people to know what books friends have read lately, or to show off favorite books, and loan them out. Most platforms prevent you from backing-up and sharing your eBooks. Ownshelf is bringing back the best parts of the bookshelf to the digital world (without the dust bunnies).
Ownshelf is a virtual bookshelf for discovering and recommending eBooks with friends across devices. It is a file-locker for legitimately storing eBooks, like Goodreads meets DropBox.
Our team spent the past year building the infrastructure and Beta website for Ownshelf. Over 20,000 people have signed up so far, helping us test the service, and offering valuable feedback. Now we are on Kickstarter to build a mobile/tablet app so it is even easier for your friends and family to share eBooks across devices.
There is something wonderful about browsing a big shelf full of books. Especially the bookshelf of a friend, where we can browse, discover new books, learn about one another, and borrow books they have displayed.
Most EBook platforms use a mix of proprietary formats, digital locks (DRM), and restrictive licensing to keep you and your eBook library stuck in their ecosystem. The books you bought are not yours to backup, transfer, or re-format for use on other platforms. With Ownshelf, we want to help you to OWN the books you own.
Take ownership of your eBooks with Ownshelf:
- Store your library in the cloud
- Access your eBooks from any device, anywhere
- Show off and share your library with family and friends
- Borrow and read friends' eBooks
- Keep your library private and in your control
For a preview of what the Ownshelf app will do, check out the free open web beta at Ownshelf.com.
Some of Ownshelf's featured authors include Paulo Coelho, Cory Doctorow, Donna McDonald, Mark Cuban, MC Lars, Rick Falkvinge, and Seth Godin.
We think Ownshelf will help spread the joy of reading, introduce readers to new authors, and make it easier for users to read across different devices. With your help, and the help of the Kickstarter community, we will build a powerful and intuitive mobile/tablet app for devices everywhere.
Since the beta website launch, Ownshelf has had fantastic coverage by the press. Librarians, authors, and digital activists have talked about Ownshelf. We knew we were on the right track when both FOX Business AND NPR gave us shout outs.
There are many ways to share digital content, but Ownshelf is focused on eBooks, and has made a Peer to Peer platform that is intuitive and accessible for everyone.
Ownshelf provides a social, device independent digital bookshelf for display and discovery of eBooks. As well as Friend-to-Friend sharing via Facebook social graph.
The service supports DRM-Free eBooks in the epub format. This keeps the files share-able across various devices.
Our goal is to have the Ownshelf app available on a wide range of phones and tablets. iPhones and iPad app via the App Store, and an Android app for phones and tablets via Google Play. Stretch goals will be added for Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, Windows phone, Blackberry, and other custom devices and app stores.
Your Kickstarter pledges will be used to build the iOS and Android apps, contract a UI/UX designer to make sure the service is easy on the eyes AND easy to use, QA test the apps, and to cover a year of storage and bandwidth costs. It will take us about three months to develop the app; a month to test and polish; and then some time to submit and get approved by app stores. May/June is a conservative time-frame for the app to be live for everyone to use.
Share unlimited eBooks for years to come. The basic Ownshelf service will always be free. But since storage and bandwidth are expensive, there will be a paid Premium tier that has unlimited shelf space and downloads. To reward your pledge towards building our app, we are offering unlimited access to our Premium plan. The site is currently entirely free in the Beta, but when our paid tier goes live, our Kickstarters will enjoy Premium access free.
All backers will get an Ownshelf die-cut sticker in addition to Unlimited digital access.
Our Early Bird backers will pass less for the Bookworm reward. There is a limited quantity of Early Bird rewards. If you miss out on that, the Bookworm tier is still a great value.
TATTOOS! We just added a bonus reward for all pledges $19.99 or higher. Literary themed temporary tattoos! Show off your permanent love of books with a temp tattoo based on favorite books. The sketch below shows off what they will look like. We will get our artist Theron to make some killer designs. Tats from Jane Austen, Ayn Rand, Vonnegut, Shakespeare and more.
If you love sharing and introducing friends to new books and authors, the Bookends and Book Club tiers give you multiple Premium access accounts to give to friends.
The limited number of Book Vault rewards come with a hard-cover book hollowed out to hide valuables secreted amongst your valuable books.
There are two special rewards for the super fans or amateur librarians out there. Bibliophiles will have a classic book on the service inscribed with a thank you note for their pledge, hosted on the site for all to share. Librarians will work with our editors to make a Featured Shelf of any books, authors, or genres they desire. Alongside our featured genres, authors, and celebrities.
We will start the fulfillment process as soon as the Kickstarter is resolved. We have a vendor selected for the stickers, and will order them once we get a full count. There will be a form to fill in your mailing address for shipping. You will have your stickers within a month of the closing. For the hollow book vaults, we will reach out and give you a few choices of books to choose from. Backers with unlimited access rewards will have their account set to Unlimited once we get your Ownshelf username; we will email you the Unlimited reward codes to share with friends.
For the special rewards that allow you to help Ownshelf select and promote ebooks and shelves, our editors will reach out to you before the end of the Kickstarter so we can start planning and even tease the content you will be curating.
As stated above, the dev of the app will take a few months. Design and UX has already begun. We will be Alpha (the first usable test version of the app) in April. In May we will plus and polish the app features. In June we will submit to the App store and Google Play. We'll send you a note when it is available to download. In the meantime, start your shelf on the web version at Ownshelf.com
The Ownshelf team are friends who have known one another for years. We spent hundreds of hours building and improving the beta. You can read each team member's bio at Ownshelf.com
The team includes expertise in digital distribution, video game development, full stack engineering, and software architecture, The guys have shipped hit PC and mobile games, launched enterprise websites, written books on PHP and MySQL, and managed major consumer brands online.
We are an experienced team that knows how to ship quality applications on time, on budget, and on schedule.
Our users are important to us. We started this project for OUR family and friends, and are happy we can open it up to the world. Your feedback on Ownshelf is important to us. Please help us build an app for Ownshelf. Your support is essential to our success. If you think Ownshelf is useful, interesting, or maybe even important, we're asking you to please: (1) back it, (2) use it, and (3) get your friends to back it and use it. Read freely.
Risks and challenges
Though we are experienced in mobile development, there are risks that unforseen problems could come up. The app might not work perfectly on all devices. The app store could fail to certify our app. The project could hit delays. That said, our goal is to ship a quality Ownshelf app on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes, but not natively. Amazon's Kindle devices use their own proprietary eBook file format, and have digital rights management (DRM) that makes it very difficult to backup and share eBooks. Ownshelf uses the open ePub format that is used by Apple, Android, Nook, Kobo, and most of the devices out there. For Kindle tablets, there are eBook readers in the app store that support ePub reading. And you can use a program called Calibre to convert the ePubs to work on any kindle. We have lots of Kindle users on Ownshelf who have chosen to keep their own eBook libraries in the cloud, and safe from Amazon's snooping and censorship.
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