Booki.sh launched back in January 2011 with a simple premise. It was intended to do away with the need for an app or ebook reader by keeping everything in the cloud. Customers don't have to download any of the content; instead they can read it on virtually any web browser, including the Kindle.
I've covered it several times, but I first heard about Booki.sh just over a year ago. One of the early demos of the reading app had been customized to work on the K3. It needed a live connection to work, and that wasn't so helpful on my K3 Wifi, but it was still a fascinating demonstration of the possibilities.
The current incarnation of Booki.sh (which I think still works on the Kindle) is also an ebookstore. Inventive Labs expanded on the idea of the cloud based reading app. It now includes the infrastructure for an entire retail platform which sells ePub ebooks. At least that's what they're theoretically selling; since you cannot download the content it doesn't really matter.
Inventive Labs has had Booki.sh in beta since January. Their partner during the beta test was Readings Ebooks, a Melbourne based indie bookseller with 6 stores in and around the city. Now that Booki.sh is leaving beta, Inventive Labs will be launching ebookstores with 5 new partners:
The platform will continue it function as it has. You can pay for ebooks and then read them on almost any browser. But there's also been a few changes since I last looked at it.
You can now download the ebooks in a proprietary DRMed format. The offline mode doesn't work with all browsers but it does work with Safari, Firefox, IE, and the stock Android browser (v2.2 and later). You'll still need to use the browser based reading app, but you won't have to be online anymore. (That does tend to break with the concept of cloud based, doesn't it?)
There's also another feature that I deeply appreciate. I'm not sure when it added, but Inventive Labs is now offering a service similar to the Kindle Cloud. You can upload your own ebooks to the Booki.sh servers and then read them via the browser app.
I'm surprised that this feature had escaped my attention, because its absence was one reason to stop me from using Booki.sh. So long as I still had to use a local app for my personal ebooks there wasn't much of a point to also use a cloud based reading app. But now that is no longer true.
In fact, the Booki.sh reading app might be browser based, but it's not cloud based anymore - not really. The offline mode breaks with the cloud concept. But that's still rather interesting because the original cloud based idea drew a lot of flack. Given the new features adopted since January, it's clear that Inventive Labs listened to the complaints and changed their strategy accordingly.