Lithomobilus Startup Launches New Ebook Platform
Lithomobilus, the latest e-reading platform hitting the ether this spring, has flipped the script on reading. Rather than authors having the final say, readers will influence how they experience stories on the Lithomobilus platform. They will be able to control a text's narrative flow, choose from multiple viewpoints, or delve deeper into a story by pursuing related content.
Founder Lise Quintana was inspired to create this innovative experience after attending an interactive museum exhibit on Genghis Khan. The exhibit, with the help of tablet displays, provided a multi-threaded narrative of history, following different members of society to show how Khan's reforms affected them. The narrative was almost limitless, says Quintana. Visitors could select any individual—politician, soldier, farmer, etc.—at any stage in the exhibit, and that individual's story would appear on screen. This freedom allowed museum-goers to create millions of story combinations based on their choices.
After attending the exhibit, Quintana wondered what would happen if this type of experience was applied to a book. "What happens if you transform the way that a reader follows a story such that they can skip around? What happens when they can jump from one character to another, or jump from one time to another?"
The idea came together in 2011 when Quintana began writing her own multi-threaded story. She quickly discovered that no platform existed that could intuitively display multiple viewpoints and allow the reader control over the story's path.
In hopes of developing this platform herself, Quintana attended a Santa Cruz TechRaising event in April of 2012. The event connected individuals with fresh ideas to the developers, designers, and entrepreneurs who could help execute those ideas. By the end of the collaborative weekend, Quintana had a workable demo platform and knew that her idea was scalable. A few months later, she reached out to productOps, a third party software developer, to build out Lithomobilus.
As Lithomobilus progressed, Quintana and team discovered further utility for the platform. "We found out that, yes, you could write these multi-threaded stories . . . but the way that we created the platform, you could also take any existing piece of literature, and add other pieces of content to it."
Though Quintana still plans to release novels that provide multiple viewpoints, the first titles released on Lithomobilus will harness the system's ability to present a network of related content. Using works that are out of copyright as a foundation, literary criticism and short stories are embedded into the parts of the text to which they relate. After reading a chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, for example, a reader could easily jump into an essay dissecting the White Rabbit character. The EPUB 3-based platform uses tagging and a data schema to create a strong but flexible net that weaves these stories together.
And Quintana isn’t done yet. She is looking to partner with other publishers and license out Lithomobilus as a white-label product. “The platform is incredibly customizable, and I think it would work for most publishers,” says Quintana.
Lithomobilus’ first titles, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, and Frankenstein will be released this spring.
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Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.