A big part of my mission with Libreture is stated on the About page,
"...supporting independent bookshops, publishers, and self-publishing authors, by providing readers with the same book management tools they would normally only get from big companies."
Yes, I'm aiming high. But without alternatives like Libreture, readers will always choose the convenience of the existing book monopolies of Amazon, Google or Apple. Without technology infrastructure, independent bookshops are left out in the cold. Luckily, the underlying technologies used by the large companies are reasonably straightforward, and are usually only proprietary variations on already existing standards.
Take downloading your newly-purchased e-books to your reading device, for example. The large retailers, who also produce their own reading devices, make it so easy: Click Buy and almost instantly PING! It's on your e-reader or app. Sounds a bit fancy, right? But all that's really happening here is that the user's account is syncing it's book listing. The device checks to see if there's a new book in the user's retailer account or library. If there is, the device downloads it.
There are a number of ways to replicate this feature, but when Libreture's goal is to support many readers with many different devices, who buy books from many different DRM-free bookshops, it's impossible to build something that immediately works for everyone.
You gotta have standards
The fallback is to work towards a common and accepted standard.
Standards are widely agreed and accepted ways of doing things. Take intermodal containers, for example.
The dimensions and features of these shipping containers are standardised. This means they can be carried by crane, ship, forklift, plane, and lorry. Imagine the chaos if there wasn't an agreed design, size or way of lifting and stacking them.
Luckily, there's an accepted standard for browsing and downloading electronic publications: the Open Publication Distribution System or OPDS.
Sync and swim
OPDS allows compatible software and devices to browse catalogues of publications and download them with ease.
You can already find a number of e-reading apps for your phone, tablet or computer that can use OPDS. The other side of the equation is a catalogue to get your e-books from.
The books you can access through OPDS is known as a catalogue. Bookshops and services like Smashwords, The Pragmatic Bookshelf, and Feedbooks provide OPDS access to catalogues such as your library of purchased books or lists of public domain titles.
And now, Libreture provides you with easy OPDS access to the e-books in your library.
If you use an OPDS-compatible reading device or software, you can now access your own Libreture library and easily download your books to read whenever you like. To do this you need to add your personalised Libreture OPDS feed to your software or device.
All the instructions for accessing your Libreture library through OPDS is available on the OPDS Feed page. Log-in first to see your personalised feed address.
The only way to redress the balance and ensure that independent retailers, authors and publishers can get their e-books in front of their appreciative readers is not to face the monopolies head-on, but to go around them.
There are already programmers developing unofficial software for accessing OPDS feeds on Kobo, Kindle and other devices. Some are even building e-ink devices from scratch, that ONLY conform to industry standards.
By simply not accepting the status-quo and actively supporting retailers who respect their customers, we can change the industry and ensure that fantastic authors are still able to write amazing books that we love to read.