Opening view of Reading Room Collection: Edinburgh Radical Book Fair (Carcanet)

Exact Editions offers publishers a free self-service solution for making virtual Reading Rooms of individual books: ISBN Reading Rooms. These virtual books are time-limited, and have a specific amount of free content (double page spreads that are open) set by the publisher when they upload the PDF of the title.

Exact Editions also offers publishers a paid for service Reading Rooms Pro. This commercial offering provides more flexible tools that publishers can use to create virtual time-limited access to their books. Perhaps the most innovative extra tool is that publishers can make collections of their books. The collections are time-limited. The publisher can make collections as required: name and edit them; change the composition and make them available as full content, or partial preview (limited pages available). Collections can also be made from sub-collections and this is a powerful option. The collections are searchable as a group and each individual book is searchable on its own account. These Reading Rooms are all GDPR and privacy compliant. 

These collections seem to have strong possibilities but they are also a new thing, book publishers are not familiar with the idea of making virtual collections of digital books. We have been gathering some useful insights from early adopters, so here are points that you may wish to consider when setting up your own collections:

(1) the collection will only be visible and enjoyed when you release/publicise the link for the Reading Room. The resource is using the Exact Editions system as a content engine but the collection will not normally be findable (by Google or anyone else) via the Exact Editions web site. The system is GDPR compliant so Exact Editions, also, will not know what you may be doing with the Reading Rooms you generate: obviously not when you use them in email or with QR codes. 

(2) the system is a set of tools for publishers who need to promote books. They give the publisher control over how much and when content can be accessed for promotional use. Timing is a key variable when planning promotion and only with a streaming solution is it feasible to use timed access in subtle and measurable deployments. Social media and email campaigns are effective for immediate response, but it you need to have a lasting record of the showcase it will be useful to link to the event on your web pages and/or blog and even with printed publicity. The Reading Rooms can also be deployed with video (eg YouTube or Zoom).

(3) the Reading Room links in their raw form are long, so it is advisable to use Bitly links or some other form of tag (QR code or image with link) as navigation to the resource. Bitly may also provide additional information on the usage of the links.

(4) collections like all other Reading Rooms on the Exact Editions system are time-limited, so you need to consider for how long they should be open. If you have a collection of books fully open for a short period of time, it may be advisable to follow up after the event with a collection giving partial access to the same set of books 

(5) collections will either be Full Access Collections, for books with fully open content, or Book Preview Collections, with partial content previews

(6) any book in your account can be included in any collection and 

(7) collections can be built from sub-collections. This may be a better way of building and navigating a large showcase than a simple aggregation of all the books

(8) the names you give to sub-collections will be used by the system to provide an extra framework for navigation. See the ‘Collections’ label at the bottom of the screen which sorts the books into sub-collections or the ‘Titles’ label which takes the user back to the books arrayed alphabetically by title:

COP26 Children’s Book collection grouped by publisher
COP26 Children’s Book collection ordered by title

(9) if you add a title to an existing collection any previously distributed Reading Room linking to that collection will see the new content

(10) collections, sub-collections and individual titles are all searchable — the scope for a search will show as greyed reminder in the search box

(11) multi-publisher collections have to be arranged via Exact Editions and require the agreement of all participating publishers

(12) We are collecting feedback on Reading Rooms usage ( We will be delighted to learn about your experience

If you are a publisher reading this, should be your moment to try the self-service and upload one of your books to the Exact Editions Reading Rooms Service.