Postepic is an app for elegantly sharing book quotes

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Its fair to say the smartphone camera has becomethe digital tool of most use, rendering the average persons camera roll essentially amemory buffer where carefully composed photographs rub up againstsnaps of receipts, funny stuff you saw on the street and fanciedsharing with friends, and, sometimes, snippetsof text you came acrossin a (paper) bookand wanted to make a note of. Snapping a photo in that moment isa stand in for the lack of real-world copy and paste.

And its the latter kind of photo (text quotations) that the founders ofsmartphone app Postepic want to liberate from this unstructured jumble of visual data. Indeed, the first version of the app, released last year as a bootstrapping side-project by a bunch of book-loving friendsafter they graduated from university in Poland, was just a basic way for them to organize and share photos of the quotationsthey had cluttering their camera rolls.

We started this project as we wanted to build something together, says co-founder ukasz Konofalski. We all share a passion for books and were used to sharing quotes and books recommendations between each other. We came across some reports that showed that in Poland in 2016 only half a book will be read on average, so we also wanted to support readership in general by building a bridge between traditional books and mobile world.

Two things really surprised us when we finally launched it in June 2016: the number of new books worth reading we discovered by simply sharing quotes with each other; and a very warm reception we received from the developers and users communities alike. We have received volumes of valuable feedback from them and got back to work.

Version 2 of the app, which launched this week, turns a basicideainto an app that has enough form and function to feel appealing to use. The coreadditional feature is optical character recognition (OCR) meaning that instead of uploading and sharing ugly-looking (and hard to read) chunks of raw page text, i.e. in their original photo form, Postepic users can now lift the wordsoff the page, capturing and editing the text and its visual presentation bychoosing fromaselection of fonts and backgrounds.

The final result presentsthe text snippetinside a square frame, in a way thats both easy to read andvisibly pleasing (for an example of how utilitarian quotes looked in v1 of the app see the image at the bottom of this post). So Postepicbasically lets people turn a favorite quote into an easily shareable unit of digital social currency. Aka,an Instagram for book quotes.

Last year Facebook added a feature aimed at enhancing the impact ofthe text statusesbeing shared via its platform, givingusers the ability to add colored backgrounds to their textupdates to makethem more visual. And with so much visual noise being injected into messaging and communications apps, this is hardly surprising. Point is, if you want something to stand out in the age of Instagram Stories (Snapchat Stories, Facebook Stories, WhatsApp Stories etc etc), it has to look right asthe bar for beingnoticed keeps getting higher.

And withall this visual noise clamoring for our attention, it can feel like the written word isbeing forgotten or overlooked as people ditcha thousand words in favor ofsharing a few photos. Yet a well-turned phrase has the power to be both arresting and enlightening, as well as a hint ofgreaterdepths lurking within the full work. Sogiven how much attention has been (and continues to be) lavished onvisual forms of communication from photo filters to selfie lenses to style transfer theres arguably spacefor a clever social sharing app that brings the power of the written word back into focus.

Notably, Apples new social video sharing app Clips includes an auto-captioning feature. Thats great for accessibility, but also a reminder that words-as-text still have powerand with a little technological automagic can be effortlessly edited back into the selfie frame.

Postepic is not the first app to take a shot at wordy snippets, though. Others have tried to buildan Instagram for book quotes Quotle, for example but no one has yet managed to generatesignificant momentum for the concept. It might be because sharing book snippetsis inherently more niche than sharing photos (its certainly more bounded, given language barriers). Or becauseno one has made a slick enough version to attract more mainstream appeal.

Postepics v2app seems to beatQuotle on OCR speed. And because itschosen to fix the sharing format as a square its content inherently feels bettergroomed for social sharing vs the more wordy/text-heavy Quotle. (Although, on the flip side, Postepics ease of use and more formulaic format might attract a flood of clich sharers and drive down the quality of discoverable quotes.) But clearly the founders hope is that the uniform sharingformat setsPostepic up to benefit from viral uplift if users sharewatermarkedquotes to their larger follower bases on platforms likeInstagram (as other apps have). Time will tell if they can make it catch on.

Its certainly stilla fairly unformed thing at this stage, especially given the size and nature of itsearly adopter community having only clocked a few thousand downloads for its MVP v1 via a launch onProduct Hunt. So even though the team has curated a bunch of quotations themselves to populate the app, youre more likely to find quotesabout scaling a startup than lines from a Shakespearean sonnet. But the core function of v2 has been executedwell, within a clearapp structure. So its super simple to capture, edit and share nicely presented quotes.

Quotation lengthis capped at 600characters to ensure readability (and curtail any copyright concerns). Photo backgrounds are also limited to a handful ofgeneric shots and textures offered within the app at least for now, to avoid users uploading inappropriate imagery, says Konofalski (on that front,remember Secret?). While the OCR tech supports ten languages at this point: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

The app also lets you tag quotations for subject matterand toadd sources (a requirement if youre making a quote public). Using these labelsyou can then browse and search quotes, while a favoritesfeature lets you curate a like-list if you spot quotes shared by others that you like.And if you dont want to share thequotes you create with the crowd you dont have to you can keep individual quotes private and just use the app to create an organized, visual library of the best bits from the books youre reading.

On the community front, the main feed of Postepic is an assorted jumble for now, showing a stream of non-topic sorted trending quotes that Konofalski says turns over every few hours based on what others are liking. Currently theres no way to follow other users to customize what you see here but thats down tohow nascent the community is. Our goal is to offer a solution that many content and photo sharing apps use: to give users a choice to pick their favorite genres and authors to adjust their feed, he says. Additionally, we want to launch a functionality of following other users, so their posts show up in users feed [but]decided to postpone the functionality until we reach a community size that would warrant this.

Postepic does also support social sharing to other platforms, as youd expect. Though this doesnt alwayswork as youd imagine.For example, testing sharing to WhatsApp the app merelycreated a generic text message with a link to view the quote in Postepic, rather than including the visual form of thequote in a WhatsApp message template (though this is likely a WhatsApp restriction on sharing from a third party app). A basic workaround is obviously to screengrab a quote and upload it manually where you like as a photo. Sharing to Twitter incorporated both the image and a text message with a link when I tested it. Konofalski says that with most well known apps it willautomatically import/drop an image intothe other app.

The appis free to download (and iOS only for now), and while the team says it has a fewideas for potential monetization down the line such as hostingpre-launch book campaigns, or offering writers a subscription-based platform to connect with fans the focus for nowis fully on building up the size of the community to try to reach a critical mass of readers.

Does generation Snapchat read books? I guess theyll soon find out

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