Category Archives: Startups


I’m a fan of Readmill, the digital reader app for non-DRM EPUB files. Why? It’s simple, and doing the work of realizing the Open Bookmarks standard for social reading. They also come across as being passionate and reader-focused.

This book needs Readmill

However, there are a number of simple features that make Readmill less appealing to me than iBooks. Here’s what I think Readmill should consider exploring in order to improve the reading experience.

– Enable readers to open books from a Box account, instead of Dropbox only.

– More font sizes. The smallest current size is still too large. I like to read with a small font. Readmill at least needs to match iBooks with this setting.

– Enable searchable books, including notes. I can’t do this in Readmill.

– For linked text within a book, reveal what the link is before launching. Currently, I have to launch in Safari before knowing where I’m going.

– Allow highlighting across pages. If I have a highlight that extends past a page break, I have to change the font size in order to get the highlight I want viewable on one page.

– Allow for different note colors. If I have different kinds of things I want to highlight, I need a color other than the default yellow.

– Allow editing of highlights. Currently, I have to delete and re-highlight if I want to change something.

– Allow readers to toggle which highlights are shared. For example, sometimes I just want to highlight a word that doesn’t need to be shared – in fact, it would be confusing for my followers to see words out of context.

– There also needs to be a place to add comments separate from highlights. Sometimes I just want to make a comment separate from a part of the text, but before my review of the book after it’s complete.

– Better note visibility. Currently, I can’t tell if a highlight has a comment unless I click on it, and interrupt my reading flow by bringing up the separate highlight pane.

– Highlights should be sortable (even if I have to do this through the web). I want to be able to read them in order of their position in the book, not in the order that I applied them. If I read a book out of sequence, for example, and want to go back and read my highlights as a group, in the current sort order this is difficult to make sense of.

– The timer and “% complete meters” are the beginnings of a data platform so that publisher affiliates can find out how people are reading (and pay for that information). On Readmill, reporting this data has a long lag time. Goodreads does this feature better. I would also like the option of manually entering my position in the book.

For every digital reading experience, there are some features that really matter, and others that are minor. But every time I see how Readmill has taken the time to match the bookmark in their logo to the loading icon, I feel they should have been focusing on some of the things in the above list, too.



Here are a few quick hits on my experience with the social media startup Percolate in beta, which I’ve been using for just over 24 hours on the web and iPad thanks to the awesome generosity of Noah (Brier, co-founder), who was super-accommodating with setting things up.

Percolate screenshot

You can read about Percolate and see some screenshots on Mashable, What’s Next Marketing, as well as on Percolate’s own blog.

It sounds like one of the passions behind Percolate is to make publishing more comfortable. Kudos to that – you can feel it. I didn’t want to lurk here, and it’s simple to use. Instead, I jumped into “My Brew,” which is culled from my Twitter and Google Reader streams, and allows my to rate and comment on them, “percolating” them into a different stream that I can share with others (as well as read what they’re percolating, too).

Here are my initial, somewhat impulsive, first thoughts. And, of course, Percolate is just in beta, and being updated.

So what else would I want to see?

a manual “new brew” button — mixes up my brew and gives me a fresh set of sources to read.

more enabled discovery – posting and voting could open up other possibilities for me to follow. One way that Percolate would stay in rotation is that it shows me what I might have missed on other social media.

a shared brew – a brew that changes based on the people I follow, and mixes in some of their sources and also their posts, so that I comment on other posts, too.

connections – I think My Brew either needs to contain everything from my connections, or be an almost completely new set based on them. I’m still going to be on Twitter or Flipboard, and want to go to Percolate to mix it up, but don’t want to see the same sources on Percolate as well. I also don’t want to feel like I’m “missing something,” like when my RSS feed doesn’t sync right.

a functional search box for new sources based on keywords I choose.

a messaging system, so that I can communicate with others within Percolate.

a third column – one for my percolating stream, one for people I am following, one for my brew. I like to see what I’ve posted and have it front and center.

smaller brew elements – I found myself scrolling down quite a bit in order to review a just a few more sources.

Looking forward to using Percolate more and seeing how it develops. Seems like there’s a lot of passion and thought behind it.