Literatum for Mobile: Academy Journal Access On-the-Go

It's happened to you plenty of times. You're standing in the checkout line at the grocery story, half-heartedly gazing at all the vacuous gossip magazine covers that proclaim the latest reality show stars' divorces or the most recent travails of that Hollywood celebutante who seems to be in constant transit between rehab and jail, when you think longingly to yourself, "If only I had access to the latest issue of the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter right now."

Even if you haven't found yourself in precisely those circumstances, information-industry software provider Atypon is fully prepared for the possibility that you will with its new mobile software product, Literatum for Mobile available in public beta since Sept. 28. Three other clients will launch on Oct. 28 and Nov. 4. Literatum will drop the "beta" label after the November date, marking the 1.0 release.

Atypon was founded in 1996 by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Georgios Papadopoulos with the mission of providing software, hosting, and systems development to the scholarly and professional publishing industry. Atypon's flagship product, Literatum, is a digital publishing platform that is used by publishers such as the American Chemical Society, JSTOR, DE GRUYTER, and the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The original Literatum functions as a full-service information platform for electronic publishers. The product is equipped to provide content production and management capabilities, hosting, managed services, hardware and software upgrades, security, and delivery. Atypon offers comprehensive technical support for the product, and the company bills Literatum as a cost-effective solution for publishers of any size.

Literatum for Mobile represents Atypon's (perhaps inevitable) leap into delivery of its product on small form factor devices. The product allows users to access their subscriptions to online publishers, and to view publications hosted on those publishers' websites, on their mobile devices.

One primary emphasis of Literatum for Mobile is the way in which it allows users to integrate individual or institutional subscription access to a publisher with their mobile device, effectively linking the "traditional digital" access channel with the new mobile channel. The users' iPhones or BlackBerries function as their authorization credential in what Atypon calls an industry-first access management scheme. Once the users have completed the one-time authentication process, their devices are instantly authenticated every time they launch the application.

Kevin Cohn, Atypon's VP of operations, says that publishers are poised to see substantial growth by making their content readily accessible on mobile devices with Literatum for Mobile.

"Mobile users, on the whole, are two times as active as nonmobile users," Cohn says. "This product stands to produce a significant engagement boost for our customers. The more their usage goes up, the more their revenue will go up."

Another innovative element of Literatum for Mobile is its utilization of HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript to make it as easy as possible for information providers to get their content onto the greatest proportion of platforms with the smallest amount of effort. The current release of the product supports iPhone OS 3.1.3 and later, iOS 4.0 and later, and Android 1.6 and later. In future releases, the product will support devices running BlackBerry OS, Palm, and other major platforms.

Literatum for Mobile also addresses issues of user experience that are unique to the scholarly publications that comprise such a significant proportion of Atypon's clientele's content. As so much of that content takes the form of a PDF or other digitalized print, Literatum for Mobile breaks PDFs down into logical components-text-blocks, figures, etc.-for viewing that requires a minimum of scrolling and zooming. The product does this without requiring customers to convert their content to XML, thus averting the associated costs in resources, dollars, and time.

Bill Rosenblatt, president of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, sees Literatum for Mobile as an opportunity for academic publishers to vault themselves into the mobile marketplace.

"Literatum for Mobile is a great way for publishers to make their content available on users' portable devices with a minimum of hassle," he says. "Although mobile access is the way of the future, most academic publishers don't have the resources to create compelling mobile apps for their content. Literatum for Mobile lets them do it easily without having to invest in heavy infrastructure."