What is Our Bookshelf?
- Our Bookshelf is a social network where people can share their ebooks as easily as they can share print books. At the moment, most copyrighted ebooks don't allow you to share them. This is because when you buy an ebook you don't own the book the way you own a print book. You own a license to read it on certain devices and most of these licenses prohibit sharing. We plan to create a new license that does allow sharing, but in a way that treats authors and publishers fairly. This is a huge undertaking that your contribution will help make possible. We will start by creating a social network for sharing public domain ebooks. These ebooks are not copyrighted so users can share them freely. A lot of great books are in the public domain, including most classics. True you can find some of them elsewhere, but learning about them through your friends can introduce you to books you might not have known about or overlooked.
- Once the site is up and running, we will reach out to authors and publishers to adopt our new licenses that will allow sharing of copyrighted works through our site. Once an author has made an agreement with Our Bookshelf, users may upload copyrighted ebooks by that author onto their virtual bookshelf to share with their friends. Because these files will have no DRM (digital rights management), a user can get a copy of an ebook from a friend and hold onto it for as long as it takes them to finish the book. Although this means users will give non-DRM copies of their ebooks to friends, Our Bookshelf will do 3 things that will prevent copies from multiplying and spreading to the point they become a problem for copyright holders.
- Users can only borrow and lend ebooks with friends in their network. This prevents users from giving a copy of an ebook away to everyone who has an internet connection (the way most file sharing methods do).
- A user may not borrow a book from a friend’s virtual bookshelf and then place it on their own virtual bookshelf. This will prevent people who did not purchase the ebook, and therefore do not have the right to share it, from making it available to others on Our Bookshelf.
- When someone checks out an ebook from your virtual bookshelf nobody can check out that ebook from your bookshelf for 3 weeks. This will prevent one person from giving an ebook to everyone in their network at once. Copyright holders will appreciate this consideration for new releases and popular titles.
Free to use and rewards for uploading books
- Our Bookshelf is completely free. Users will also gains points for the number of ebooks they upload, the number of friends in their network, the number of reviews they write, and the number of ebooks checked out from their virtual bookshelf. Users can redeem these points for coupons from participating ebook retailers.
Why is this important?
- People have shared books for as long as they have read them, but now publishers want to change the rules and prevent you from sharing ebooks. Our Bookshelf will work hard to make sure people can share ebooks as easily as they share print books. By contributing to our campaign you will help us take the important first step needed to accomplish this. Our Bookshelf will also allow authors to promote their work directly to readers, by helping them identify people who have read similar works.
Who is creating this?
- My name is Greg Belvedere and I have worked for the past 4 years as an adult librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. I have served on the library's electronic resource advisory committee which is responsible for evaluating and selecting new electronic media for the library's collection. I have also worked as a freelance information architect creating effective user interfaces for different websites. This experience has given me a strong understanding of the current ebook environment and knowledge of how to create seamless user experiences online. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-belvedere/44/756/330
- My business partner is Herve de Maulmont. Herve has an MBA from Cambridge University and has run several successful businesses. You can find more information about Herve here http://www.linkedin.com/in/hervedemaulmont
What We Need & What You Get
- We need $20,000 to create a social network where people can share their public domain ebooks. The site is fairly intricate and will require a well thought out content management system that allows us to verify the copyright status of uploaded ebooks and manage the virtual bookshelves of our users. I have designed the architecture of the site, but I need to hire a skilled development team to actually write the code and do the graphic design (including our logo). We have a great team lined up to do this. Your contribution will help us build Our Bookshelf: A DRM-Free Ebook Sharing Social Network
- We offer our contributers great incentives. All contributers get an invite to the site when it launches. Contributers at slightly higher levels can get a coffee mug or t-shirt with the Our Bookshelf logo. We have something very special for larger contributions. They will get recognition in the form of a banner or star on their Our Bookshelf profile identifying them as a founding member. This is a great way to let everyone know you helped make Our Bookshelf a reality. Think of it like having a plaque with your name on it in a building you helped fund. Everyone likes to boast that they knew about something first, this will let people know you believed in Our Bookshelf from the beginning.
- If we do not reach our goal we will still create the first phase of Our Bookshelf, but we will supplement funds raised here with funds we had intended for legal fees arising from the second phase of Our Bookshelf.
- Our Bookshelf will allow people to share ebooks as easily as they share print books, but it will treat copyright holders fairly so they can keep creating. We will give our users something of incredible value by giving them a convenient way to share ebooks with their friends. We will give them even more value by rewarding them for adding content to Our Bookshelf.
- Our Bookshelf will allow authors to promote their work directly to readers, by helping them identify people who have read similar works.
- It is true some ways of sharing ebooks have sprung up in the last few years, but they don't really care about the reader. One model lets a user lend an ebook once for 14 days and after that they can never lend the ebook again. I don't know about you, but when I buy a print book I can lend it to as many people as I wish and they can take as long as they need to read it. We understand the fear publishers have about DRM-free ebooks, but we think they have gone about things the wrong way. We think our method strikes the right balance between the interests of readers and publishers.
Other Ways You Can Help
- We know times are tough. If you like our idea but can't contribute, please tell your friends and family about our campaign. We know that a lot of people wish they had a better way to share ebooks. If you have friends who like ebooks or just like to read, tell them about us. Post a link to facebook or twitter and let your family and friends know about us. They will thank you and so will we.