BitLit is a brilliantly clever, free app which converts the hard copy books you own into free or discounted digital copies. As long as you own the paper copy, you can take a ‘shelfie’ and claim your free or discounted e-version.
Once you’ve downloaded the app (and signed up through Facebook or Gmail), you need to find out which of your books are eligible: take a ‘#shelfie’! You must snap your bookshelf one shelf at a time and the app identifies which books qualify for free or cheap eBooks. This version of the app for Android includes a super cool visualizer, which creates a word cloud from your authors and titles so you can really get to know your shelf. Watch your cloud grow as you increase your shelf size- awesome!
When you find a match, take a photo of the front cover and then prove the book is yours: write your name onto the book’s copyright page and take a pic. You then get an email link to download your free eBook (or code to get your discount from the publisher’s website). Then, providing you have a compatible reader on your phone, you’re good to go!
Unfortunately, none of the books we had lying round the office came up (but we had a pretty skimpy sample to test with). To date, BitLit has signed up more than 200 publishers, with more than 30,000 titles available- which is someway behind the gazillion books in existence, but a decent start. They also have a pilot scheme running with HarperCollins US for discounts on 7 titles (currently you can get a free copy of Joe Hill’s Novel Heart-Shaped Box. BitLit is in its Beta phase, so you’d expect the number of titles available to steadily increase.
All in all the app runs very smoothly from what we could see (we didn’t get any crashing), and the design is sleek and intuitive. There’s no doubt that the concept is absolutely brilliant- there’s no way you would want to re-buy a book you already have, yet you still want the convenience of digital. I’m not totally keen on the idea of having to graffiti my books with my name (I’m a bit of a purist). And it’s hard to believe how writing your name on a book proves you ‘own it’ (and isn’t just a copy from your local library with your writing scrawled in it), but I guess the BitLit guys must have this covered.
We LOVE the idea and are looking forward to seeing how the app develops and improves. The developers of BitLit are BitLit Media Inc, a Vancouver-based startup.