A Reading Room view of An Introduction to Barthes

The Frankfurt Book fair has announced a Bookfest Digital for 17th October 2020. This will be a full day of interactive digital presentations, discussions, readings and debates held in the middle of the shortened, post COVID-19 Frankfurter Buchmesse. Attendance at this virtual event will be free and there is no charge for entering as an exhibitor or presenter, but the events will be chosen and arranged into appropriate streams and sessions by the organisers. Publishers and book trade exhibitors must get their proposals submitted by 15 July. 

This could well be the shape of bookfairs and major international events to come. A date in the diary, a city ‘seat’ for the event, but truly global participation by exhibitors and audience. All the presentations and meetings underpinned through a range of web technologies: Zoom, YouTube, Microsoft Teams, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Powerpoint, etc. Since this will be a BOOKfest, there is also good scope for the use of the Exact Editions Reading Rooms. And Exact Editions will commit to supporting without charge at least 20 publishers needing to display beautiful printed books for the BookFest. The first 20 to contact us after selection by the organisers of the Bookfest. See here and here for previous discussion of Reading Rooms.

So what do Reading Rooms give the publisher who wishes to discuss or demonstrate some books at a virtual event?

(1) The digital book will appear in exactly the same format as the print book

(2) All the illustrations and design elements in place and in the same reading order etc

(3) The audience/reader gets into the book with a simple click (and only if they have access to the Reading Room link)

(4) The digital book can be searched and browsed and viewed in full page, double page spreads or thumbnails

(5) No downloads or software sign-on so access is as immediate as the internet connection

(6) All the action takes place through the web so any environment used in a digital demo should afford access, Zoom to Powerpoint, all of the above.

These are the key features of the reader experience with Reading Rooms. But it is also important that the Reading Rooms have some control parameters for the publisher. This is a platform for publishers who need to create free or privileged access for a period. 

(1) The publisher is in control and sets up the Reading Room link from a dashboard on the Publisher’s Account with Exact Editions.

(2) Reading Rooms are for individual books and the publisher decides the term for which the Reading Room will last from the dashboard (1 hour, 1 day, 1 week or 30 days) and the Reading Room will not be accessible after that terminal date. 

(3) Publishers can, with each book, make as many Reading Rooms as they like (eg 1 day for a quick burst of publicity on Twitter, 30 days for a textbook that might be being reviewed in April for adoptions in September) and all bandwidth and support costs are part of the Exact Editions service.

For the Frankfurt Bookfest Exact Editions will be providing a free service for the first 20 publishers who apply to publisher@exacteditions.com (with subject line ‘Bookfest digital’) following selection for the programme (our free support will extend to one or two books per publisher ).