Some of us are already so hooked on reading that we can’t imagine our lives without at least a few books on the go; believe it or not, others need a little extra motivation to flip those pages (literally or digitally). Fortunately a Berlin-based startup has a great idea: gamification. By following a freemium-based model, Blloon is an app that promises to engage readers with e-books (particularly those aged between 18 and 28).
With a welcome gift of 1000 free pages when a user signs up, getting started is easy! From there, earning additional free pages can be accomplished by sharing books and writing reviews (among other tasks). Of course, you can always just avoid any of the hassle and pay for additional content (with top-ups and monthly premium memberships ranging from €1.29-€6.99 that deliver 100-1,000 extra pages).
Blloon features a user interface designed to have appeal for young people, making it easy for casual readers to use the app. Other features offer similar appeal, like those described by founder Thomas Leliveld:
“We’re creating and frequently updating Readlists to reflect the lives of our users in specific moments or moods, for example ‘Make me Laugh’, ‘Single Life’ or ‘The London Film Festival’. In the future we see it feasible that members of Blloon can create, rate and share these Readlists and earn pages upon creating the most loved Readlists. This is similar to what exists in some music services (playlists). According to recent studies, the younger generation believes firmly that eBooks are too expensive. Blloon addressed that by allowing the users to read free. Secondly, young people aren’t yet engaged with eBooks and we want them to be. They read frequently on their phones and tablets, we know this, but they haven’t yet found a platform that engages with them fits their lifestyle better.”
At first glance, it would appear the Blloon competes directly with other existing services like Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. Leliveld asserts that this isn’t the case: while it may be true that the concept is similar, Blloon is trying to keep costs low by not offering more than their target audience needs.
Many publishers are already on board with Blloon, including: Allen & Unwin, Diversion Books, Faber Factory, Guardian Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Lonely Planet, Open Road Media, Profile, RosettaBooks and Workman Publishing (with others already being planned an negotiated).
Unfortunately, Blloon is only available for the iPhone and iPad in the UK right now, but there are plans for a US release in time for Christmas –followed by a full international rollout. There is no specific news regarding an Android version of the app, but it seems likely that one will be available in due time.