Monday, March 29, 2010

A New Reading Community of Cornucopian Proportions

This week I attended an event held by a technology company called DMC Worldwide that introduced COPIA, a new, robust social community created especially for book lovers.

I confess I hadn't heard of DMC before but apparently they've been around for more than 40 years successfully developing products for the Telecom industry and they appear to be well funded.

After a very nice cocktail party thought-leader Mike Shatzkin, who's been working closely with the Copia team in an advisory role, took the stage to deliver an enthusiastic speech about the service. This was followed with an overview emphasizing how Copia was different from others and THEN there was a demo showing how it actually works. Unfortunately this part of the presentation got somewhat derailed by technical difficulties, but it didn't really matter because by that time the presenter had already gone over much of what readers will be able to do using this platform. Overall it appeared to be similar to existing book community sites like Shelfari, GoodReads, and LibraryThing, combined with an eBook marketplace that functions much like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony, but...on steroids.

So what exactly is Copia? Well, here's how their official press release describes it: The COPIA platform is a hybrid solution for consumers of all ages to experience a completely new way to discover, enjoy, share and purchase books, newspapers, magazines and a wide variety of digital content. At the same time, it integrates a software application engine for OEM brands looking to deliver content across their digital devices including e-readers, notebooks, netbooks, tablets and smartphones.

Plus, here's a video on their website that helps tell more of the story.

If this all looks and sounds like a lot, that's because it is! And as impressive as Copia appears, it just might be too much too soon for users to embrace from a company with not much name recognition or reputation.

As mentioned above, Copia intends to ambitiously launch with their own eReaders and SIX of them to boot! So I was pretty disappointed when there weren't any devices at the event to try out. Also disappointing in my book is how they'll all use ePaper, a similar technology to eInk, which means black and white, no color. That said, I was told by a representative the highest end model with features like a 9" screen, Wi-Fi, 3G, Etc., will cost around $300, so that's pretty affordable. I did manage to find a video on YouTube that demonstrates one of the 6" touchscreen models called the Ocean6 and a spokesperson provides even more description of the overall service.

Another thing missing from the event was the mention of how Copia intends to reach consumers and raise awareness about this incredible world they've created. Yes, it will be a community accessible on practically every type of mobile device and computer integrating the ability for users to connect with all their current Facebook friends and Twitter followers as well as new ones inside the Copia universe, but first people need to know that the service even exists. And that seems like a huge challenge when you consider how long Sony has been plugging away to promote their Sony Reader and eBookstore with ads in airports, magazines, and even television with modest results. And of course Amazon, who currently has the bulk of eBook market share, owns Shelfari and when they decide to integrate that community within their eBookstore they'll have thousands of Kindle owners ready to participate.

Personally, I don't quite understand the need to communicate with complete strangers about books I'm reading and only consider recommendations from people whose opinions I trust. But that's just me. I'm aware there are indeed tons of people who find it appealing to make their personal libraries public in the hopes of finding others who share their passion. With Copia they'll definitely be able to do all that and then some.

One way or another I believe Copia will succeed, even if they end up powering the backend of a higher profile eBook company.

If I were Sony, I'd contact DMC in a heartbeat!

How does Copia look to you?


  1. Until they have firm pricing and a launch date, I'm not at all interested.

  2. Sounds great! At very least, I'm excited to see another e-reader company enter the marketplace. Competition can only help us lowly consumers.

    I have to disagree with you on the ePaper topic, though. An e-reader that used back-lit LCD screens would be just as uncomfortable on my poor eyes as reading on my laptop. Unless there's an affordable alternative technology I haven't heard about...?

  3. Jon - I believe Copia is launching in June so they should be announcing more details, like pricing, soon.

    Jeremy - I don't think reading on the LCD screen will cause noticeable eyestrain, but I am concerned about the backlit display will look in bright sunlight. If it's just like the iPhone then it will be difficult to see and this is where ePaper and eInk wins big time.