I have long been interested in seeing new ways for reader to collaborate from inside an ebook app, so I was thrilled today to get an email about Nota Reader. This is a new app available today in Google Play (iOS version is coming soon.) It’s still in beta, but it looks to be off to a good start.
Unlike other textbook apps, Nota Reader enables the student to add to the value to a textbook by linking to videos, images, and webpages that are related to the topic of the book or even just a single page. Nota Reader also differs from its competition like Kno and Inkling in that it is focused first on OER textbooks, not commercially published titles.
Annotations and comments can be added to a title by students both in a class as well as anyone actively using that title. They are also permanent and can be seen not just by students in the same class but also by any user that reads that ebook even years later.
This type of collaboration, where contributions are persistent over time, was first publicly pioneered on a large scale by Wikipedia. It’s one of the ways that digital beats paper. There’s no longer a need for a publication to be considered finished on the day it is sent to a printing press, but unfortunately that detail is one that digital content is still trying to shake off.
Nota Reader is the kind of idea that I had hoped to see implemented ever since I reported last August about Vook integrating the WeJIT collaboration tools into the ebooks they make. The developers of WeJIT saw it as a way to foster communication between an author and readers, but I saw it as persistent marginalia.
You can find the Nota Reader app in Google Play and the iOS app is coming soon. You can also try Nota Reader on the web, though the interface still needs work (at the very least a full screen mode).
I have not tried the Android app because only my Kindle Fire HD is charged at the moment, but I have tried the website. It has potential.