The goal of this project is simple: to encourage reading of ebooks.

By making ebooks pretty and hosting thousands of titles, we'll build a community of readers.

Most ebooks are unreadable

Writers and publishers have many options when choosing a format for electronic book production. Many formats are tied to particular electronic devices or programs, which might be sold or given away. The programs might protect the intellectual property rights of the publisher, or they might enforce loyalty to a particular hardware manufacturer. A few formats have been chosen to allow any reader on any current (or future) computer to access the ebook.

Anyone who has tried to read an ebook has their own grumbles. Ebooks can be incompatible with new hardware or software. Some software restricts printing, and can send information about reading habits back to the publisher. Electronic devices can be expensive, easily damaged, tempting for thieves and have a short battery life. Ebooks are often unavailable to international users because of legal issues.

Some 'open ebook formats' have been designed to run on future computers, which is an insurance against obsolescence, but these formats often produce ugly results. It is no wonder that most readers say they prefer the look and feel of paper and ink.

So what is this about?

Every ebook format has its champions, and debates over 'which format is best' can become inflamed. We're going to inflame the debate some more by saying we believe that books should be readable, and any format that is hard to read isn't worth the effort. We simply want to produce beautiful pages of text that most users will enjoy reading. People like reading books, and so we make our ebooks look like nice books, not computer programs.

ReadNG is a company for people to read and share books worldwide through a Web experience. Everyone can read books on ReadNG - both at ReadNG.com and on their own PC. As more people upload their favourite books, ReadNG is empowering them to become the publishers of tomorrow.

Some of the site's features include:

  • Reading lists, which let users insert their favourite books into MySpace accounts, blogs, or other Web sites where anyone can read them
  • Public or private books - users can elect to publish their books publicly or share them privately with friends and family upon upload
  • Subscriptions allow users to keep track of their favorite users' new books

By registering, users are able to upload and share books, save bookmarks, create reading lists, and comment on the books. ReadNG is building a community that is highly motivated to read and share books. The ReadNG service is free and will be supported by advertising.

As a seed to encourage early users, we will upload the entire Project Gutenberg collection of ebooks, comprising over 19,000 titles:

  • Literature (Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Aesop's Fables, Shakespeare, Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, etc.)
  • Philosophy (Plato, Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, etc.)
  • Biography (Plutarch's Lives, Mark Twain, Thomas Carlyle, Frederick Douglass, etc.)
  • References (Roget's Thesaurus, almanacs, encyclopedia, dictionaries, etc.)

A full list of titles can be found in the catalog.

Participation

We're currently looking for sponsors. Soon, we'll run out of both bandwidth and webspace, and we would welcome any enquiries from wealthy benefactors.

If you haven't got any spare cash, you can still help. We need a graphic designer or typographer to produce a double-page spread that will fit within a browser window (screen resolution 1024x768, 16-bit). Use any fonts and design tricks you need - we'll figure out how to reproduce it later. We'd also be pleased to find a web designer with Ajax skills. Sorry, we cannot pay anyone for their contributions.

Drop an email to Nigel Gourlay if you think you can help.

Benefits

Why participate? For recognition, inspiration, and a resource we can all use. We're aiming to become the new Library of Alexandria, a place where the great works of literature are read, discussed and loved by generations of book devotees. By helping now, you could be part of a historic project.