SYP Conference 2012 – Seminar 3: Interactive and Social Reading

Seminar 3: Interactive and Social Reading

Andrew Rhomberg – Founder & Managing Director of JellyBooks.

The interactivity gap between the author, publisher and reader is narrowing. The digital revolution has given readers the opportunity to decide how and when they wish to consume such content. JellyBooks & Inkle are two of many companies providing users with a vehicle for that consumption.

Andrew Rhomberg, founder and Managing Director of Jellybook opened the discussion by introducing his company JellyBooks. Andrew likes to think of his company like a sweet shop, a place where the consumer can sample 10% of a book for free and if they like them share their great finds with a wide audience.

 “JellyBooks encourages you to sample and not buy the book”

Andrew reminded me of a scientist, JellyBooks is very much a working project for him and he likes to think of each stage of development as a series of experiments to create a virtual bookshop experience where the consumer is in control.  The reader is free to browse and discover books, so much so that the more recommendations a title receives the bigger the discounts, something which is usually controlled by the retailer.

discounts for sharing books – get the reader to do the marketing”

Book Clubs and award ceremonies naturally play a part in bestseller lists but with added reviews and recommendations come the power for the consumer to play a part in a title becoming a big hitter which is something that everyone in the publishing process should consider.


Jon Ingold – Creative Director at Inkle

Jon joined the discussion by focusing on how we perceive ‘the book’ to be and then questioning that perception. Inkle’s latest project was the well reviewed and raved about the

Frankenstein App, in collaboration with Profile Books.

“In Frankenstein you take some of the author’s decisions

about language based on approach to a story”

Jon’s key point during the discussion was the need for innovation and how we should continue to ask ourselves – what comes next? We are taught to read a book from page 1 to the final page through to completion but is that really how best to enjoy content? He argued that this was a cultural approach to reading and what the app and other digital content did was to reinvent this.

“No moral concept when not listening to an album all the way through, #

why isn’t it the same with books?”

Text in Jon’s opinion is a boundary between the writer and reader. Jon declared ‘the book’ as we know it dead and that it was time to revive our reading experiences. If you didn’t enjoy a chapter in a book wouldn’t it be great to be able to tell the author and consumer an ‘abridged’ version of their work. Of course this sparked debate; one delegate argued that this would destroy structure, meaning and thus effect the way we interpreted books. Jon advised that this wouldn’t be destruction, merely an alternative and that user interface was important in how we digest content.

Both Jon & Andrew inspired the audience to question our reading experiences both currently and in the future, understanding our reading habits and how this can be enhances in the digital age.

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