IDEO designers wondered why we continue to discover and consume the written word through the old analog, page-turning model. IDEO asked: what happens when the reading experience catches up with new technologies?
The team looked at how digital and analog books currently are being read, shared and collected, as well as at trends, business models and consumer behavior within related fields. We identified three distinct opportunities—new narratives, social reading with richer context, and providing tools for critical thinking—and developed a design concept around each one.
The first concept, “Alice,” turns storytelling on its head by making narratives non-linear and participatory. With Alice, the story world starts bleeding into the everyday life of the reader. Real-world challenges, like acting on a phone call from the lead character, or participating in photo based scavenger hunts, unlock new aspects of the story, and turn other readers into collaborators or competitors. Alice is a platform for authors to experiment with narratives, to allow their stories to transcend media, and to engage fans in the storytelling process.
The second concept, “Coupland,” makes book discovery a social activity by allowing readers to build shared libraries and hear about additional texts through existing networks. Coupland makes it easy for busy professionals to stay on top of industry must-reads. Businesses can assign book budgets to their employees and build collective libraries through a group-licensing model. Personal recommendations, aggregation of reading patterns, and the ability to follow inspiring individuals and groups help ensure that Coupland users always are tapped into the latest essential content within and outside of the organization.
The third concept, “Nelson,” connects books to commentary, critique, and contextual information, letting readers explore a topic from multiple perspectives. Nelson reinforces the role of books as carriers of knowledge and insight. Readers can explore polarizing material and see whose word currently has the greatest impact on popular opinion and debate. Layers of connected commentary, news, and fact-checking augment the core book content—providing greater context and encouraging debate and scrutiny.