Rick Marazzani

In 2006, after a career as an editor and writer for publications such as Outside, GQ and The New York Times Magazine, John Tayman's new book, The Colony, was doing well, and Scribner urged him to start thinking about a second book. Three things gave him pause.

First: "I had just finished a long slog on a single book and was not so eager to jump into something of that size immediately."

Secondly: "I could see and recognize significant changes afoot as the industry moved from analog to digital."

For Rick Marazzani, the idea for Ownshelf—a service that allows users to share ebooks across devices and among friends—originated at home. After taking his household completely digital—"no more DVDs, no more CD players, no more books, except for the baby who had board books but likes playing on the iPad"—Marazzani grew frustrated trying to share titles across the various e-readers and tablets his family members possessed.

"I wanted a way to replace the old-fashioned bookshelf," says Marazzani, who comes to the book world via the video game industry. "I wanted something to let you show off what you're reading, see it and interact with it. To grab a book from any device and not have to go through the hassle of DRM."

Rick Marazzani believes readers should be able to share and discover e-books through their friends' personal libraries just like they do with print books. That's why he built Ownshelf.

Ownshelf, a free web service that launched in beta Friday, provides readers with a cloud storage platform to share e-books with friends and family. Think of it as a simpler Dropbox intended specifically for e-books, but with a social element built in to foster discovery.

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