Copia Hopes Partnerships Lift Social E-Reader Platform

If the name Copia sounds familiar even if its social e-reading platform doesn't, that's because the company had different ambitions at CES 2010.

Last January, Copia was planning to launch a line of six e-readers, ranging from $199 to $299, at a time when Amazon's Kindle cost $259. A few months later, Copia said it was working on a $99 e-reader. Since then, Amazon and Barnes & Noble have raced to the bottom in e-reader pricing, putting the squeeze on young hardware hopefuls.

So Copia's hardware plan is on pause indefinitely, product developer Mike Lundgren said, while Copia works on its social platform, which allows users to compare reading lists with friends, share passages and send notes.

I got a brief rundown at a pre-CES event on Wednesday evening. The platform has some nice features, like a community value rating for each book and the ability to rate people's public notes. Imagine, for instance, reading the notes on a textbook from highly-rated student. Along that line, Copia hopes its platform will take off in classrooms.

The trouble for Copia is that even on the software front, it can't escape the giants of Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple. Copia is a competing service, with its own bookstore and reader apps for Android, Windows Phone 7 and iPad. Stealing attention away from the major players isn't going to be easy.

Copia hopes new partnerships with Motorola, Samsung and Microsoft will help -- Copia has a presence at their CES booth products -- but whether that will translate to pre-installation of Copia on those companies' products remains unclear.

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