Ownshelf allows users to upload and share all of their DRM free EPUB books while borrowing and downloading other titles from friends and celebrity lists. Currently Nerdcore and literature loving rapper MC Lars (Whom I have previously written about) has a featured shelf that includes the works of Melville, Poe, and many others. Of course, Having MC Lars seems like a good choice considering his main demographic seems well read nerds who like new developments in digital sharing programs.
The process of getting books is pretty straightforward and there doesn't seem to be any real issue with the mechanism of EPUB sharing. Of course, if you plan on uplaoding, make sure that the file is both an EPUB and DRM free to ensure that you are sharing something that can't be legally shared. I think Ownshelf is a step in the right direction for eBooks as it has the social feel of sites like goodreads.com, but allows for the instant transfer of books from person to person. I was lucky enough to correspond with the founder Rick Marazzani, so check out my Q and A with him below.
Peter: How did you come up with the idea of sharing ebooks?
Rick: We are a house full of readers. And as we shifted from paper books to ebooks, it became less easy to manage our family library. We have 4 nooks, an ipad, a Nexus tablet, 4 smartphones and two PCs between us. When I bought a book for my daughter on my phone, I had to get it on my PC in order to get it to her nook for her to read. It was a tangly mess. We needed one central system for recommending and sharing ebooks together.
P: When do you think beta testing will move into a full release?
R: Beta phase is more than testing the site. It is also about allowing real users to give us feedback on features and polish. It will likely be several months long. The more beta users, the more the team can plan our resources to work on what the Users actually want.
P:Do you foresee future lists from all kinds of well known folks?
R: Featured and celebrity bookshelves are important to give new users shelves to browse. Since we are early days, most users will not have any friends to share with, so we are seeding the shelves with interesting authors and personalities. We will continue to feature great books and authors to promote new things. We already have a handful of authors working with us now to seed the featured shelves with their content to introduce or promote a series or other works.
P: What do you think the ideal user will get out of Ownshelf that they cannot get from other ebook services?
R: Our goal is to bring back something lost when reading went digital, the bookshelf. The spot in our homes where we show off the books we love, and have them accessible to friends to browse and borrow. No other ebook service puts friends and books together in the same place like a real bookshelf. Friends will learn more about one another, and share their tastes directly. No one keep lousy books on their shelves!