People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Tag Archives: our-bookshelf

The Book Elf: The eBook Sharing Social Network – Guest Post by Greg Belvedere

The Book Elf will make sharing eBooks easy.

The Book Elf will make sharing eBooks easy, while adhering to copyright laws. This free eBook sharing social network will start by making public domain eBooks shareable, but gradually add copyrighted works. The site launched July 19th.

People have shared books for as long as they have read them. Unfortunately, most copyrighted eBooks have licenses that make it illegal for the owner to do so. Many of these licenses rely on DRM (digital rights management) file formats to enforce their terms. These DRM file formats create a poor experience for the average reader, while doing little to deter the tech savvy pirate. It would be a shame if we lost the ability to share books as we transition to eBooks. At the same time authors and publishers have concerns about file sharing that we must address. The Book Elf strikes a balance that will satisfy both readers and copyright holders.

The Book Elf will start by letting users share public domain eBooks. Public domain works don’t have copyright restrictions, so you can share them freely with your friends. Most literary classics are in the public domain, giving users a great selection to chose from. Users can find eBooks by searching their friends’ shelves, or searching The Book Elf which also links to the Internet Archive’s public domain collection. If a public domain eBook is not in our collection, users can upload a copy. We will verify the public domain status before adding it to the user’s shelf and our collection. Users can also write reviews for eBooks.

In order to allow legal sharing of copyrighted works, The Book Elf will create a new eBook license that allows authors and publishers who adopt it to make their copyrighted eBooks shareable through the site. The Book Elf will approach independent authors and publishers with this new model first. Instead of using DRM file formats which create a poor user experience, The Book Elf will build DRM into the website itself to prevent copies from proliferating. Three simple rules will keep sharing fair for copyright holders, while still leveraging the advantages of this digital format to give users a great experience:

  1. Users can only share copyrighted eBooks with friends in their network. This prevents users from giving a copy away to everyone with an internet connection (the way most file sharing methods do).
  2. Users may download a copyrighted eBook from a friend’s shelf, but they may not place it on their own shelf to share with other users. This will prevent people who do not own the book, and therefore do not have the right to share it, from making it available on The Book Elf.
  3. When a user downloads a copyrighted eBook nobody else can download that eBook from that shelf for 3 weeks. This will prevent a user from giving an eBook to everyone in their network at once.

The Book Elf makes sharing eBooks both fair and convenient with a new approach to DRM. The site went live on July 19th. You can sign up at http://thebookelf.com.


Greg Belvedere is the founder of The Book Elf, the DRM-Free ebook lending social network.

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Help Create a DRM-free Ebook Lending Social Network – Guest Post by Greg Belvedere

Help Create a DRM-free Ebook Lending Social Network.

Contribute to the Our Bookshelf Indiegogo campaign. A few months ago I wrote a guest post here that touched on some of the barriers to sharing ebooks legally. In that post I talked about my plans to create a DRM-free ebook lending social network called Our Bookshelf. I have designed the website and I now have a great developer lined up to build it. However, good programmers and graphic designers don’t work for free. So I have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help raise the funds. You get neat perks when you contribute. More importantly, you will help create a place where people can share ebooks as easily they share print books, but in a way that still treats copyright holders fairly.

Your contribution will help Our Bookshelf reach its first phase and become an ebook lending social network for public domain books. Since these books are not under copyright, users may share them freely without having to worry about restrictive licenses. Once we have an active social network we will work start getting authors and publishers to adopt our new ebook license that allows sharing. I have worked out way to share ebooks fairly through the Our Bookshelf website. You can read more about it on our Indiegogo campaign page or on our website. I hope you will contribute and help improve the way we share ebooks. I also encourage you to tell any bibliophile friends and colleagues that you have. You can find us on facebook, google+, and on twitter @ourebookshelf


Greg Belvedere is the founder of Our Bookshelf, the DRM-Free ebook lending social network.

Our Bookshelf: The DRM-free Ebook Lending Social Network – Guest Post by Greg Belvedere

Even with the rise of e-readers and e-books, there are unresolved issues such as the use of digital rights management (DRM) files that affect the sharing of e-books. Here is a guest post by Greg Belvedere about Our Bookshelf: The DRM-free Ebook Lending Social Network.


Like many I have grown frustrated with the lack of convenient ways to share ebooks. Companies like Amazon claim to offer ways to do this, but they use DRM files and place so many restrictions on how you can share ebooks that few have taken advantage of them. On the other end of the spectrum sharing ebooks via Bit Torrent and other file sharing methods amounts to little more than piracy. Although very convenient, these file sharing methods do not respect the copyrights of authors and publishers. If these people can’t make a living we can’t expect them to keep producing quality ebooks.

In response to this problem I have found a way to make sharing ebooks as easy as sharing regular books, maybe easier. At the same time my method will respect copyright holders. I’m doing this by creating a DRM-free ebook lending social network. I have a clear concise explanation of how this will work on our website Our Bookshelf. In addition to this novel way of respecting copyright in a file sharing setting, I plan to build some interesting features into the site. I hope you will check it out and follow us on twitter @ourebookshelf and like our facebook page, so we can keep you updated and let you know when we launch the site.


Greg Belvedere is the founder of Our Bookshelf, the DRM-Free ebook lending social network. He is also an adult librarian who works for Brookyn Public Library.