A Look at Copia

We reported on Copia when it was unveiled at CES. As we said then, what’s novel about Copia is the combination of eCommerce, eReaders, and social networking it offers. Consumers can buy eBooks, interact with friends, and manage content across various devices through the same platform. Plus, Copia is introducing six (six!) new eReaders to the market, which would be the last thing we need, if not for the interesting fact that all the social networking aspects are also accessible through the eReaders. Plus the Copia platform will be accessible through other devices, including iPad, iPhone, and as-yet-unannounced devices that will be exclusively powered by Copia.

We had a chance to sit down with a couple of folks from Copia and from DMC Worldwide, the 50 year old enterprise and consumer tech firm that’s backing Copia to talk about the platform. Here’s a quick summary of some of the interesting things they had to say.

First, expect the Copia Website to debut just before the June “dads and grads” season, with the six eReaders coming out just after that. While Copia has partnerships with major publishers and its catalog of available trade books won’t look terribly different from, say, Amazon’s, Copia will put a lot of energy into the academic space, where the platform’s interactivity with be a strong asset.

In terms of the social networking, as you’d expect there are recommendation engines and the ability–sort of Netflix-style–to view your friends libraries and recommendations. What’s ever cooler, though, is the ability to publish and syndicate the notes you take on your books, which become part of the Copia social network (though you can, of course, control your preferences in terms of who sees what). In academia, this is especially cool–it enables online study groups based on textbooks. Presumably, Copia is working to make strong ties with textbook publishers. And since nobody needs another social network to manage, Copia hooks into your exiting Facebook or Twitter networks if you want.

Copia could seem like just another unremarkable player in what is fast becoming a very overcrowded field if not for the integration of its social networking tools and the fact that it works across many devices. Also, the company plans to expand the platform to other kinds of media, including music and movies, which could give it a stronger hold amongst various kinds of media consumers. But we’ll have to see, once it launches, whether or not Copia will stand out.