A next-generation social reading platform for ebooks

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Thanks for hunting us Erik! Hi everyone, I'm the cofounder and ceo of Glose and we are live as from today on iOS and the web. We put together a great collection of books for start ups and entrepreneurs so check it out! Please reach out for feedback, questions or ideas to build the best reading platform for books on the web. One that makes reading more efficient, personal, and social at the same time. Cheers all - I'll meet you in a book Thoughts we have for updates : - Free access to a preview of 10% of the books for more browsing - Integration of Pinterest and Instagram to share quote cards from books - Gamification of reader annotations - Reading groups within books - Ability to upload one's existing ebooks to the platform - On/Off notifications (better notification control basically)
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@nicoprincen Ability to upload my own books would definitely be nice to have. I personally have a bunch of EPUBs I still want to read. Only problem with that of course is that you'll get different versions of the same book on the platform which makes it hard to match annotations. Any thoughts on that yet?
@nicoprincen Hey, I was wondering why this is US only. And I think that should be mentioned on the site.
@Jonnotie @nicoprincen The app is definitely not US only. Depending on the rights issued by publishers, we are able to sell books in more than 120 countries. Which country are you in?
@nicoprincen I'm glad to see a social reading experience come to life again (readmill shutting down was sad). I'm curious about the 'gamification of annotations.' What exactly does that mean? Upvoting/downvoting to filter the best commentary? Something like a rapgenius for books?
@Shwinnabego Yes it could be something like that. Though we want to encourage conversation rather than competition. We are less in the business of finding the one best annotation ( that's more like Genius) than in the mission to generate conversations, both private and public. Book content can be the starting point to great conversations.
I'm really intrigued by the concept of sharing notes and highlights with other readers all over the world. Theoretically you can pick any of your favorite books and discover a community of peers in the margin. We actually tried this same concept 5 years ago (
) , but the market wasn't ready yet. Some other companies like Readmill later tried as well, but still I think the market wasn't ready. At least back then publishers were still weary of online publishing let alone enabling anyone to share snippets of their IP through social media, etc. I got a chance to talk to the Glose team a few months ago however, and I think they might actually pull it off. They not only have a talented team and product, but also seem to be able to get the right partnerships in place which is key for a product like this. Can't wait to see this platform develop over time!
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@marckohlbrugge Thanks for your comment and support Marc!
@marckohlbrugge thanks a lot! Your input is always of great value to us - I''ll see you in a book!
Been using it for a while. Best social reading app if you don't want to buy a kindle.
as a huge reader myself, and someone who loves to reads in communities but hasn't found one online -- ehhh goodreads -- i'm really excited for this @nicoprincen tell us a bit more about the industry. what was it like striking partnerships for this? and what personally inspired you to make this?
@eriktorenberg Striking partnerships with publishers is not easy and takes time. You need to show something different that can have value for them and for authors and there is a lot of education to do. In our case we allow authors to engage with their readers through annotations (wait and see, we have big names coming to the platform) and talking to authors played a lot in this. If you look at how we do annotations on Glose, readers and authors can annotate with text but also with links and videos (Youtube) so it's a great way for authors to give extra content to their readers - like a collectors edition of their books. Publishers do realize though that they need to find alternative distribution platforms to brutal Amazon, who is currently trying to renegotiate with publishers to get an even bigger commission out of book sales, without actually providing more value.
@eriktorenberg As for the reasons why we built Glose, there were 3 moments. First : I lost my notebook 3 years ago, a notebook where I had written a lot of the quotes and notes from a lot of the books I had read. It hurt a lot because that's stuff I wanted to keep, it's like losing a bit of your brain, heart , and soul. So I thought it would be great to be able to highlight the quotes who inspire you in books as you read them - with just one touch - and have all that content automatically posted on your reader profile. Second : I had a big period of social media fatigue ( all the trivia and information overload) and realized then that my favorite friend on Facebook was a guy who manually posts a great quote from a book every day. I remember thinking : "what if everybody did the same when they read?". Instead of being bombarded with buzz, you would go to Facebook and Twitter to be showered with inspiring stuff - the BEST of what people read in books. Because it' so hard to write a book that usually books contain great content. The format creates such a big barrier to entry that the average level of what you read there is pretty good. And I want good content in my life. At that point we were only a step away from thinking "And what if people connected through that content - like they do in music with Soundcloud, and beyond that in concerts?" Third : all the conversations with @julien_c to think about what a book is and means at the information age. The printed book was the first object of the industrial age : the first object to be mass produced and distributed broadly for everyone to have the same product. In many ways Kindle still works that way : everybody gets the same device that creates a silo for you to read your books like anyone else, alone. We thought that the book for the information age should be different, and leverage the cloud and the crowd : everyone would share the same book in the cloud and readers could engage with eachother through that book. The format would go from being closed to open and every reader would find in the book a place to start interesting conversation. There is an underlying network of people behind every book> We thought connecting those would be great. And when I read a book, I like to read it alone at first (which you can do on Glose), and then activate social filters to see what other readers have highlighted and annotated. If you check out "The Hard Thigns about Hard Things" for instance, there are annotations from Silicon Valley investors that make the experience more interesting and trigger conversations.
@nicoprincen this is a comment for 5 years out, after Glose becomes insanely successful, but I'd love to see this model for digital textbooks. I think the value in group annotation and commenting with school related material is incredibly valuable.
@Shwinnabego We totally agree! We see it as part of our mission
What did you learn from Readmill's failure, and why won't you suffer the same fate?
@chrismessina Thanks for asking. I wouldn't talk about a failure and we have a lot of respect for what the Readmill team did designing a great reading app and community. We have learned a lot talking to them. The main difference of approach though is that Glose has its own bookstore, whereas Readmill only relied on readers uploading their own ebooks to source content - and didn't want to be a bookstore. They wanted to be a social reader on top of existing bookstores, but the problem with that is that the main bookstores (Amazon, Kindle) are closed silos. If you wanted to read a book you had to buy it from a bookstore other than Amazon or iBookstore, then upload it to Readmill via Dropbox. Maybe too much friction to go mainstream. On Glose the books are already there (300,000 and many more to come). You download the app, select the books you want through your network, our curated lists, or personalized recommendations, you buy it, and then you read. We believe that readers want everything in one place so we built all the layers ( discovery / bookstore / social network / reading interface). 2 other good things about having a bookstore : - it brings us much closer to authors, who want to work with us. They see the point of adding content and engaging with their audience since it can generate sales in the end. Working that way will provide us with a lot of exclusive content for our readers. Especially at a time when authors want to distance themselves from Amazon ... or at least work with alternative services. - we have a clear business model to start with, which I think was not the case for Readmill. What do you think?
@nicoprincen just curious - if I buy the Steve jobs bio and begin annotating it, am I able to pull in my friends to a given quote? Would they have to buy that book as well to comment with me?
@Shwinnabego Thanks for asking! The answer is : no they would not have to buy the book to comment your post and engage with the quote you annotated. The way it works it the following : you read "Steve Jobs" and annotate a quote you like. When you do that, both the quote and your annotation are posted to your profile - it's as if you had extracted them from the book automatically to keep them in your reading archive. Once that's happened your friends can comment on your annotation, or even add an annotation of their own to the quote. You can try it now on Glose. Cheers
@nicoprincen that's amazing, and I really like how that flow sounds. I was praying that amazon kindle/highlights would do something like this but they've fallen off the radar in building any type of community. Going to hop on Glose now!