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TEA - e-book distribution platform

Design and Development of the first Open-Source e-book distribution platform

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Co-founded in 2011 by three e-book, Internet and digital specialists, TEA (The Ebook Alternative) specializes in developing open e-book distribution solutions and services. These allow booksellers and distributors to take advantage of flexible solutions for their clients that are available on any open digital-reading device. Notable cultural and technology partners, including Decitre, Cultura, Rue du Commerce, Smile, and the National Book Center (CNL), support the company.

TEA is an Open Source e-book publishing and distribution platform that, on one side provides publishers with a secure solution to distribute their catalogs, and on the other, provides users with service, freedom and permanence guarantees. In addition, users can benefit from:

  • Accessing the largest offer possible
  • Reading on any device - computer, e-reader, smartphone, or tablet
  • Buying e-books on any online bookstore
  • Keeping e-books even when changing reader, store or platform

CHALLENGES

The rise of e-readers and e-book downloads has deeply impacted the publishing industry. This trend is characterized by the dominance of proprietary solutions, with Amazon and Apple as the main players. This market state involves certain risks for publishers - who don’t weigh much compared to the platforms - and strong constraints for readers, like limited catalog, impossibility to transfer on other devices, and lack of file ownership.

METHODOLOGY AND OUTPUTS

Our work on the e-book and reader features of the platform allowed TEA to end up with a robust technical and functional basis to fulfill their mission and guarantee their profitability by building an e-commerce and white-label offering.

Our technology experts and UX designers faced multiple challenges to successfully complete this project:

  • Developing a reader available on a range of devices - computers, tablets, mobiles, and the future connected screens
  • Guaranteeing the availability of downloaded books in Offline mode
  • Implementing open standards such as HTML5 and epub3, because HTML5 support isn’t universal yet and displaying various types of books in the epub3 format may prove complex
  • Designing intuitive interfaces offering optimal reading conditions

And we went the extra mile to provide the user with a digital reading experience that delivers the same crisp quality of a paper book in an e-book. This was achieved by respecting the layout constraints set by publishers on certain books via fixed-layout standards, among others.

The Main Features for the user:

  • Access to catalogs available on the platform
  • Personal account for creating a personalized library and setting reading preferences
  • An e-book reader providing Online and Offline access to books

For TEA:

  • The book conversion for their publication to epub3 format (paging, vignetting)
  • Viewing features (full download or browsing mode)
  • Management of user preferences (bookmarks, display settings…)

RESULTS

Our commitment allowed TEA achieve its ambitious goal: becoming the first Open Source e-book distribution software platform that is freely accessible to all the book industry players and guarantees the reader freedom of action as well as permanence of their digital library.

True to its philosophy, TEA recently made the code of its platform available to developers, allowing them to freely use, modify or improve it. Their goal is to promote open digital reading solutions and we couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of this adventure.

Screenshots

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