Exact Editions is a streaming content solution offering access to magazines or books through subscriptions. Since the platform is a streaming solution, and delivers content in real time, with pages and search results appearing as requested by the reader or consumer, it is fortuitously well suited to providing temporary access to content which is normally limited to subscribers. Free and open usage for a limited period is not a proposition easily supported by other book or magazine digital platforms which rely on downloads.
Exact Editions’ method is to offer a dashboard from which publishers create temporary access to their content by making Reading Rooms which are open for a pre-set period (an hour, a day, a week or 30 days). The length of time is fixed by the publisher when he/she makes the Reading Room. The Reading Rooms are open and privacy respecting, so there is no need for registration or a log-in procedure and no individuating user data is collected. Anyone who has the link can click on it to access the content. This makes for easy transmission and viral distribution of the Reading Room links via social media, web pages and email. There are several summaries of how to use Reading Rooms on this blog: see here, here and here, for further detail.
The fact that access is via streaming content rather than downloads also makes it relatively straightforward for a publisher to provide temporary access to aggregations or collections of content (books or collections of magazines). Reading Room access to complete archives has been available to Exact Editions magazine publishers for some time. It is now also practical to offer book publishers the opportunity to make Reading Rooms for collections of books. These book collections can be set up for a specific promotional occasion or defined for regular and repeated use as needed. Some possible use cases:
(1). Promotional mailings with a collection of books, eg in some subject area — political theory or chemistry — which may be available as inspection copies to instructors or professors. Access to the collection to be sent to different email groups for 3 day, or 1 week, long Reading Room periods and the responses measured.
(2). A collection of books featuring a star author who has several books with the publisher. To be used when the author is in the news, attending a literary festival, or has a new title in her list.
(3). Any number of available books to be presented within a short-term Reading room at eg a major book fair or to accompany a discount offer.
So how would a publisher working with Exact Editions make a new Reading Room for a bespoke collection? Carcanet have over 200 titles from their brilliant poetry list on the Exact Editions platform. To pick a personal favourite: the Carcanet Collection happens to include 3 books by the great Scottish poet Edwin Morgan. He was born and died in Glasgow where he spent most of his life as scholar and poet. A collection of Edwin Morgan’s books might make a welcome poetry bouquet for any event. How could we do this?
The first step is to log-in to the publisher account and select the ‘Collections’ option, and then click the blank rectangle for ‘Add Collection’.
At this point we will be invited to name our new Collection and add titles from the drop down list of available titles.
When the selection has been made, in this case only 3 books, the Collection should be ‘saved’ and the Edwin Morgan Collection will now be available for deployment as its own Reading Room.
The streaming Reading Room technique offers publishers the chance to create vivid and temporary samples of their wares. The method used is analogous to that used by Amazon Look Inside, but it is a tool under the direct control of the publisher. It also offers the publisher a way to create promotional displays which combine several books together for a planned event. The ability to combine or synthesise a collection for immediate but temporary appreciation and a shared digital experience is a new thing.