Infinite Custom Content Possibilities: BookRiff

Custom content collections. Imagine the possibilities.

Having trouble? Okay, imagine you’re planning a camping trip in our great white north but you’re a hardcore camper. You don’t need beginner camping books; you don’t need Fire Starting 101; and because you’re camping, you can’t carry ten books with tips, hot spots, or trail maps.

Now, imagine you could peruse all the books you like, pick out the chapters you find particularly interesting and necessary, and pack them all into a neat little EPUB and bring your e-reader only. Seems like an obvious solution, doesn’t it?

Well, the people at BookRiff have taken the obvious and are making it possible. Endlessly possible. Mark Scott was kind enough provide us a demonstration of what BookRiff is and how it works. He explained the basic premise of BookRiff, its interface, its vision, and its potential.

There are two ways to contemplate use of BookRiff’s platform: from a publisher’s perspective and a riffer’s perspective. Publishers can upload their EPUB e-books and customize their visibility, usage, and sales policies. The dashboard is intuitive and easy to use, and makes customization a breeze. Publishers can set policies on which books can be split up and how, pricing for individual chapters, and more. They can then sit back and watch the riffers create new opportunities for publisher content.

For riffers (say, a fashion blogger, a music nerd, a camping enthusiast), BookRiff is a place where we can create custom collections of content. We can “curate” content however we please. For example, I want to create a custom collection of content all about Canadian DJs. What I can do is peruse the content available in BookRiff’s database, select individual chapters from separate books and magazines, and compile my own custom compilation of Canadian DJ information. I can arrange the chapters in whichever order I like, and I can make my new compilation that I can buy and that other consumers can buy too. I can also add my own custom cover to add that final touch.

At the moment, BookRiff is working on compiling a strong stock of content with Ingram and book and magazine publishers before they launch a full campaign to get people using their services. They want to ensure the content available is high-quality first, so that users are satisfied.

My first impressions are good. I see huge potential in the non-fiction market—especially in educational publishing. I still think back on custom course packs in university with dread. The mismatched landscape/portrait layout and the awful quality reproductions are only a couple of the qualms of custom course packs. With the integration of BookRiff’s services, I envision huge usability for students and professors alike. But there is fun to be had for fiction as well. I’m a bit of a sap, so to be able to create a custom anthology of my favourite short stories and give it as a gift would be gold to me! (Not to mention gold to my receiver!) We even discussed the potential for fan-fiction. With all the excitement over young adult series, the ability to customize story endings, romance, battles, and more is super fun and would certainly draw some creative users and consumers.

They have still got some tweaking to do before they set up their big launch, but all of us present at the demo could see huge potential for this project. It’s exciting stuff.

BookRiff will be coming to Toronto for Technology Forum 2012.