Browse the books your friends are reading – or share collections with your friends. You and your friends can download the books to read later. It’s called Ownshelf and it’s intended to be a way for friends to share freely distributable books.
It’s possible to use this to distribute copy-written material – because of encryption, Ownshelf wouldn’t even necessarily know you were doing so. This is not the intended use of the app, however: it’s supposed to be a way for people to share works in the public domain or otherwise free to spread.
There might be copyright issues here, long term, as The Next Web pointed out.
“We promote and provide books that are public domain or creative commons. Of course what users actually upload to their personal shelf is up to them,” said founder Rick Marazzani, according to the article. “We hope that by using real names and real friends via Facebook that people will stick to what they deem as fair use. All the content on the server is encrypted, so we cannot see what’s in the user’s files. So we could not manage DRM or rights centrally.”
So this is a great tool that may or may not end up being abused by pirates – much like the Internet itself. But enough background: let’s see just how Ownshelf works.
Your Online Bookshelf
Head to OwnShelf.com to get started. You’ll need a Facebook account to log in; there is unfortunately no email-only option. When you do log in you’ll be presented with an empty shelf and the ability to browse your friends’ books. If none of your friends use OwnShelf (likely) you’ll still see three sets of books to browse: the shelves of Paulo Coelho and MC Lars alongside a collection of books that later turned into movies. Feel free to browse these collections to discover how the site looks.
Click on any book and you’ll see the option to “borrow” it.
If you “Borrow” the book it will show up on your “Books” page, along with any EPUB files you’ve uploaded to the service yourself (more on uploading later).
Click any of the books and you’ll be given the opportunity to download them as EPUB files.
You can easily add these books to your iPad or iPhone using iTunes, or add them to any e-reader that natively supports EPUB files (Kobo, Nook). If you want to send this file to your Kindle Nook or just about any e-reader on the market, try Calibre. We offer a free Calibre manual if you need help.
You can upload books from the “Books” page of OwnShelf; the button for doing so is right at the top. You’ll be able to browse your computer and add as many EPUB files as you like.
Want some books to upload? Why not grab free EPUB versions of our many manuals? They are free to download and to distribute. I uploaded a bunch of them to Ownshelf; you could too and share the information we offer with friends quickly and easily.
Of course not every free EPUB file on the web comes from us – just the best ones. If you want more choices for some reason you could check out these 3 Good Online Sources With Free eBooks To Read and Angela’s article that outlines 5 eBook Tools and Tidbits for more book tips.
What are you uploading to Ownshelf? Let me know in the comments below, or tell me about other websites for uploading and sharing free books.
Oh, and if someone from Ownshelf is reading: we’d love to be a featured shelf. Get in touch if you’re at all interested.