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First impressions: Copia – the online reading community
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  • November 20, 2010
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So I got my email invite to Copia yesterday. You remember Copia – the reading startup with the big ambitions (that got slightly smaller recently when it dropped its plans for a line of cheap ereaders). Its premise is as the “social reading experience”.

But what is it? It’s a reading platform – you can download ebooks through its store, and use its apps on other devices, like iPad, Android, Windows Mobile 7, Mac and PC.

But what’s it like? That’s what I wanted to know – so I joined up, picked out some books I’ve read and had a quick look.

First Impressions

The look: this thing – good or bad – looks the goods. It’s fast and pretty, which is a good start in anybody’s terms. Navigation is pretty intuitive, and the design is both familiar and a little wacky – just a little. Hope you like the bubble motif.

How it works: these are initial impressions, so I haven’t explored Copia very thoroughly, but first impressions like this are important to users trying to work out if they want yet another social network in their lives. It seems the site is split into “public” Copia – a bookshop anyone can buy ebooks in, and “my Copia” your catalog, people, groups, discussions – and a dashboard to keep it all straight. You can rate books, and add books to a group’s common library.

The main idea: you mark books you have read, or want, or are reading etc, and the engine track other people and how many titles you have in common. You can even get a snazzy Venn-like diagram of the books you have in common. You can follow people, and they can follow you, pr you can start discussions, or groups or join those of others. Pretty standard stuff. All these connections form an activity stream, which will keep track of discussion threads you are in, and the latest from groups you have joined. That’s all very neat.

So far, at the time of writing this, there are less than 1700 members of Copia, 180 groups and 251 discussions, so it’s early days. It’s hard to say how many books are in the library. I can’t see a way to get a total.

Not bad – next I’ll post on the more advanced features – like Copia in the margins of books for in-book discussions and group annotations (real-time?) when using the reading applications. Now THAT could be big.

Just don’t join Copia for the “seven free books” offer. I got all excited and went hunting for some I was after, then I realised that you don’t get a choice – just seven classics that have been chosen “to start discussions”. Still, Vonnegut is Vonnegut. Not bad for nix.

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