There's a new "cloud" service on the scene — this time for e-books. Democrasoft, Inc. has launched WeJIT — a reader-discussion forum — in conjunction with new Waterfront Press e-book "11 Days in May" by JD Messinger. The WeJIT software creates miniature websites that allow participants to discuss, vote, answer polls and more. The companies tout the forum's ability to set up real-time discussions with authors.
I was skeptical about the claim; that sounds like a blog, not a book. But the ability to create Web-based communities within books does have fascinating potential. There are implications for historical record, for example — the ability to glimpse the cultural response of bygone eras. However, this first attempt leaves something to be desired.
I'll admit that my first problem was with the book itself. " 11 Days in May " is an unreadable tale of a former corporate exec's spiritual transformation, littered with videos that I found distracting.
That seemed like an excellent discussion point, and so I tried to activate the WeJIT part of the book and start a discussion, asking other readers what they thought about the videos. Try as I might, I could not create a discussion in WeJIT. That's when I realized that this was just a one-way communication. The book came with hyperlinks to predetermined topics.
"Future iterations will allow readers to create their own [discussions] from inside the book," Richard Lang, chairman and CEO of Democrasoft, told TechNewsDaily.
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The hyperlinks weren't listed in the table of contents — another glitch — so I just flipped through the ebook and found a discussion topic: "Do you believe people possess a sixth sense?" Not only can the author reply, but community members can also respond to each other. In this case, the comments were tame and in agreement, but the setup did get me wondering about the possibility of malicious postings. That concern was echoed by Charles Salzberg, author and head of Greenpoint Press, a New York City publisher.
"So many people are just saying things to be witty or mean-spirited or to get attention," said Salzberg.
But it looks like authors want to give this tech a try.
"We've had more than a dozen individual authors reach out to us in a couple of days," said Lang.
As of now, authors and readers can create 10 WeJIT discussion sites for free. According to Lang, "power users" will need accounts.
Do you think this online-discussion forum offers something useful? Take this WeJIT Survey I created.