Test drive: Readium demo e-reading app off to great start: Librarians please note

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It’s only a reference app for developers and not nearly as far along as Amazon’s Cloud Reader, but I’ve got Readium‘s Chrome-browser extension running fine under the Ubuntu variant of GNU/Linux.

Click on the images for more detailed views. Download of app is here (more info here). Also see LibraryCity’s earlier post on Readium’s significance.

You can call up files from your  computer or Chrome-capable tablet  or via Web addresses, and you can increase the font font size and even choose between single and double columns. I’m not sure if the Amazon cloud reader has the column feature.

Missing from Readium, as best I can determine, is a way to create a dark background surrounding the book—a nice capability within Amazon’s cloud reader. I hope it’ll be along in time. Same for more formatting and navigation features. Interface could be more slick but isn’t at all bad for a prototype. Pretty good, in fact.

On an HP desktop with a 3GHz-plus CPU and 4GHz of RAM, at least, Readium runs pretty briskly, but then most everything I use does under Ubuntu.

If you’re at Tools of Change, you might want to check out a full demonstration set for 5 p.m. today.

For now, here’s a handy tip: Just type readium into your Chrome browser after installation and the addition of books–and you’ll see your Readium library with covers ready to click on. At least that’s how it works on my system.

Speaking of goals related to Readium, I’ve been thinking about ePub and the requirements of academia, a priority of the Digital Public Library of America. I’ve love to see an ePub files in the future be able to combine a reflowable text version with a PDF-style image version and allow instant switching back and forth—to the same place in the book. Maybe these capabilities exist already. But if not, they need to. As long as academics don’t forget the need for simplicity and accessibility for those requiring them, the DPLA could be a healthy influence on the IDPF.

Related: New EPUB spec gives tech companies the edge, from Arthur Attwell. I myself don’t mind ePub’s complexities as long as there are easy open source creation tools, especially for basic tasks like the layout of novels. Also see Readium news links via Google.

And speaking of Tools of Change: Librarians and fellow travelers might want to drop by the Library Alternative Panel at 1:40 p.m. in on Tuesday in the Astor Ballroom, with Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive as moderator and panelists from the New York Public Library and Publishers Weekly among other places..

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