Social Reading App Readmill Adds Adobe DRM and PDF, Adds New Stores

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Social reading iPad app Readmill has been slowly increasing its footprint among publishers and today announces new support for Adobe DRM-protected ePub and PDF formats. The new app is coming next week, but you can grab it an update later. While the startup has oft been associated with socialising books, its ability to make excerpts from PDFs sharable across its social network of users will substantially widen its appeal beyond books to reports and research and academic papers. It has also integrated into the Google Play and the Kobo store.

Readmill also hinted at new partnerships with bookstores and platforms. Key to Readmill’s strategy is not to sign publishers but retailers, thus putting heat on publishers since users will follow the utility of Readmill’s experience.

Prior to these moves Readmill had been an impressive and elegant reading app but it was locked into a complex method of getting books and documents in the ePub format into its application – which although limited its appeal to a niche audience interested in out of copyright classics or new fiction also gave it valuable feedback on the way the app was used. Of course the golden prize would be to work on books published in Kindle or Apple iBooks format, but so far both are closed systems. Indeed, the socialising of these books may incentivise more to be published in a Readmill-friendly format.

The app allows users to share excerpts and comments on books using a Twitter-like follow model where users can follow books, other users and, crucially, authors.

These author tools are pretty powerful, allowing readers to Tweet the Twitter handle of an author when they start reading. It means live feedback for the author, says co-founder and CEO Henrik Berggren, “opening a direct real-time channel between the reader and author.” He declined to comment on user numbers so far.

In fact some authors are using Readmill to annotate their own works, providing a richer experience for the reader. Think sleeve notes for books, instead of music.

Readmill’s staff of 10 is backed by Index Ventures, Passion Capital and Wellington Partners.