Dallas-based technology start-up Rethink Books announced today at the annual Catalyst West conference the release of BookShout!, a revolutionary new reading platform which enables users to engage and interact with each other while reading digital books, allowing friends to read books together, whether nearby or far apart.
Developed over the last 2 years for the Christian market — where small groups are part of the DNA — BookShout! allows users to not only read a book but to further experience, discuss and dialogue about it with others. Leveraging the technology of Facebook, this foundational software created by Rethink Books goes beyond a simple highlighting and note-taking tool to an affinity, community-driven function.
“This is why BookShout! is such a perfect fit for the Christian audience,” said Rethink Books Founder and CEO Jason Illian. “We are all part of the body of Christ, and we were designed to engage around the Bible and other meaningful books. We are simply using technology to enhance our interactions, both in person and virtually.’
“The web is actually being rewritten around people,” Illian continued. “We’re moving from being viewers of a concert to actual band members on the stage.”
Initially launching for the iPad, BookShout! will soon be available on iPhones, the web, and Android devices. Upon signing up, users are connected with friends via their social networks and provided suggested users to “follow.”
In addition, users are encouraged to buy books together and create reading circles, allowing them to read books with their small group, friends from school, people from church, and even the author. They can share their thoughts and notes with fellow users and to sites like Facebook and Twitter. An online video demonstration of the platform is available here.
Through their Facebook connections, users can create “reading circles” of any size, which can be made public or private. It can be a virtual group or a group with a physical location. Each reader can see what others in their reading circle highlight as well as read their notes and comments with a unique multi-colored highlighting system. Other readers’ notes can also be turned off without having to “un-friend” them.
Every major Christian publisher is participating in the BookShout! launch, with a number of free ebooks being offered during launch week, including works such as “Jesus + Nothing” and “Loving the Way Jesus Loves” from Crossway; “The Fitting Room” and “Godspeed” from David C. Cook; and “Code Triage” and “Promise Me This” from Tyndale.
In addition, several other digital books will be available free with purchase of the print version at Catalyst, including “The Explicit Gospel” from Crossway and “The Principle of the Path,” “The Grace of God,” “Soul Cravings,” “Unleashed,” “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” and “Searching for God Knows What,” all from Thomas Nelson. Altogether, approximately 10,000 books will be available for purchase through the BookShout! store, from these publishers and others such as Zondervan and Tyndale.
BookShout!’s unique technology will allow authors to interact with their readers either individually or as a group, create a following around their books and communicate directly with followers. They can share personal notes from their writing of the book, as well as respond to readers’ thoughts as they are posted. Authors and pastors can easily publish manuscripts or sermons directly to BookShout! for their followers to read and share notes.
“As both an author and a publisher, I can’t tell you how excited we as an industry are about this new platform helping to create community around our books,” said Mike Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and now a Rethink Books board member. “What’s most heartening is that it will help readers discover — through their own friends and circles — the books that will be most meaningful and enjoyable to them.”
In addition to Hyatt, other well-known authors whose books will be available on the platform at launch include Rick Warren, Jennie Allen, Phil Cooke, Robin Jones Gunn, Tricia Goyer, Fred Sanders and Matthew Turner.
Rethink Books is a Dallas, Texas-based technology start-up focused on helping readers buy, interact and share more books, specifically within the Christian market. For more information, please visit www.rethinkbooks.com or www.bookshout.com.