Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Free iPad App Fun for Readers and Authors

It's not often that I pull content from a press release, but Subtext, a new e-book app, looks like a ton of fun...for readers and authors. For the record, I don't own an e-reader myself--I rarely have time to read for pleasure anymore, but don't cry for me. I get paid to read! I do quality control on e-books, so I'm a fan, just not a user yet.

If you can bear to join yet another social network for readers, see below for an abbreviated version of the company's press release:

Right from the pages of an e-book, Subtext members can:

• Engage in conversations with friends, community members, authors and experts, even if they are not on the same page at the same time.
• Access author, expert and community-generated insights and information and contribute their own.
• Easily add and explore links to relevant articles, images and multimedia on the Web.
• Personalize the experience so they can engage with the people and information that matter to them.

Members can also see all the discussions and activity related to the books they are reading in “Discuss,” a Facebook-style reading feed that serves as the community center of Subtext.

“Here, at last, is a platform that allows authors to add video, audio, photos, links and notes to enhance their books—and it is as easy as changing their Facebook status. Best of all, Subtext frees authors up to approach their subject in a different way, to speak in a more intimate voice and to lift the curtain on their process,” explained Amy Stewart, the New York Times-bestselling author of Wicked Bugs. “I'm midway through my next book, and I'm already thinking about how I can enhance it in Subtext.”

Subtext’s First Shelf Showcases 18 Enriched Books

For its launch, Subtext collaborated with notable authors from several U.S. publishers—including Byliner, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin Group (USA), Random House, Inc., Simon & Schuster and Algonquin, a division of Workman—to offer consumers a collection of eighteen books spanning genres such as literary and popular fiction, mystery, suspense, business and science. All books are enriched with additive content, including author and expert commentary, and available with free previews. The company also announced that it has integrated with the open Google Books API, allowing Subtext users access to their Google eBooks library as well as the ability to add additional books from the Google eBookstore.

This initial effort aligns with Subtext’s plan to serve as a platform that connects authors and publishers directly with consumers and supports the first marketplace for value-added book content.

Examples of Additional Content in Subtext

• George R.R. Martin’s editor and researcher offer insider commentary in A Game of Thrones.
• David Eagleman, a popular neuroscientist and author of Incognito, spends a week “in the book” discussing the complexities and contradictions of the human mind.
• Frances Mayes refreshes her classic Under the Tuscan Sun with updates on popular characters and new off-the-beaten-path locations.
• Spencer Quinn reveals the secrets behind a good mystery in The Dog Who Knew Too Much.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is brought to life with scenes from the new movie and interviews with author Lisa See and director Wayne Wang.
• Lev Grossman gives a behind-the-scenes tour of the magical world of Fillory in The Magician King.

Complete List of Books on First Subtext Shelf
  1. The Baby Chase, a Byliner Original, Holly Finn
  2. The Chairs Are Where the People Go, Misha Glouberman & Sheila Heti
  3. The Dog Who Knew Too Much, Spencer Quinn
  4. A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
  5. Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok
  6. Incognito, David Eagleman
  7. In the Plex, Steven Levy
  8. It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs…, Larry Smith & Rachel Fershleiser
  9. The Lotus Eaters, Tatjana Soli
  10. Machine Man, Max Barry
  11. Miss Lonelyhearts, Nathaniel West
  12. The Magician King, Lev Grossman
  13. A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick
  14. The Sherlockian, Graham Moore
  15. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See
  16. The True Memoirs of Little K, Adrienne Sharp
  17. Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes
  18. Wicked Bugs, Amy Stewart
(More titles to come.)

Subtext was designed to allow consumers to access and read books from multiple sources. The Subtext bookshelf can sync with users’ bookshelves on other platforms, and its system supports annotations across different ebook editions.

(Subtext received $3 million in seed investment from Google Ventures, Mayfield Fund, New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Omidyar Network.)

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