Reading Between the Lines of Copia's E-Reading Approach

Aug 09, 2010

The ereader price wars have heated up to the boiling point with e-readers from Amazon and Barnes and Noble dropping to under $150. However the announcement of a $99 5" LCD e-reading device on the horizon from new entrant Copia, there's much speculation that all e-reader device makers will need to compete in the hundred dollar range. Given that the Copia is being manufactured by DMC Worldwide, which has some experience manufacturing affordable electronics, it's no surprise that the Copia will come to market at the most aggressive price point yet.

The company has also announced plans for larger tablet devices as well as more Kindle-like designs, so may well be hoping to grab some of Apple iPad market share as well. The tablet market, of course, competes on a lot more than price point--with usability and a much broader array of functionality factoring.

However Copia plans to compete on more that price point alone. Anthony Antolino, SVP of Copia, gave me a tour of the company's "content delivery and social media platform," which the company not only believes will be its product differentiator, but which it has high hopes will transform the e-reading experience across a wide range of devices. Currently in beta, with a scheduled pre-holidya release, Copia's e-reading platform provides a socially mediated reading environment that bring "content, community, and commerce together." Antolino says that the Copia platform doesn't just connect readers with each other that it provides a "deep collaboration environment."

While highlighting and note taking features are not unique to the Copia, the platform does emphasize the social and collaborative potential of these features, which will make it particularly appealing to educational environments. As Antolino pointed out, "In school, you try to study with the smart kids… with Copia, you can create a group and see the inline notes and comments from everyone." Users can be as public or private as they choose with their ebook annotations.

Copia is also taking a social-savvy approach to device and interface interoperability. Antolino says that the social platform "is available across all digital touch points including the browser, our own ereaders, an iPad app, a blackberry app, and WinPhone 7."

When I questioned whether or not users would want to participate in yet another social network (in this case, on specifically around books), Antolinio said that "Copia is not an isolated network, we leverage the APIs to connect in meaningful ways so that you can leverage the time, effort, and energy you've put into your other social networks."

Not surprisingly, social discovery is a large part of the community environment, which includes ratings, and "community value" (which shows the activity—social conversations and other actions surrounding a particular title), as well as a variety of search and discovery tools such as a tag-cloudesqe mosaic view of book covers to surface what is most relevant to a search query.

Without a doubt, the e-reading device space is growing increasingly crowded but Antolino feels that the "Ereader space is still nascent and growing at a great rate" and believes that during the next year, we'll see consumers clearly indicate which platforms they prefer and it is Copia's hope that its socialized reading experience will help it make its way to the top of their e-reading list.