John Seguin is President and Chief Librarian of Third Iron, the makers of the journal reading application BrowZine!™. He earned his MLS from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 2003 and has since worked both as an academic librarian and for a library vendor before co-founding Third Iron in 2012.
Q: What is BrowZine and what does it offer readers and librarians?
A: BrowZine is an application for iOS and Android devices that allows readers to easily find, browse and read many of the e-journals available from their academic, hospital and corporate libraries. BrowZine arranges e-journals by subject in a newsstand format so users may find titles on the shelf, select an issue, and review tables of contents. BrowZine also integrates into popular authentication systems used by libraries, such as proxy and VPN, so users may easily retrieve full text. Articles may be saved, exported to bibliographic management tools such as Zotero, and links sent to colleagues via email or social media. The My Bookshelf feature of BrowZine gives users the ability to save favorite titles and be notified when new articles are published.
For libraries, BrowZine is a new way to deliver e-journal access and to better serve their fast growing populations of mobile users. BrowZine is unique because it brings people to the complete journals and delivers a great way to read them. BrowZine also helps a library visualize their collection and creates opportunities for serendipitous discovery as users come across other, unfamiliar titles that are on the same “shelf.” And because it provides ways for a library to “brand” their instance of BrowZine, users always know the service comes from their library.
Q: Is BrowZine meant to be a research tool? Is there search term functionality?
A: BrowZine is a terrific research tool! Libraries have a lot of great choices for search services, from individual publisher platforms to discovery layers, but searching is not the only way people want to interact with literature. We know researchers have deep bonds with the journals in their field and rely on those titles to keep up to date with major innovations and discoveries. By allowing the researcher to easily review tables of contents, scan articles, build their own bookshelf of those favorite titles, and then alert them when new issues come out, BrowZine creates a seamless experience between researchers and content. BrowZine is unique because it allows users to easily interact with a journal as a journal, and not just individual articles through a search box.
Q: When did you launch BrowZine and what has the response been thus far?
A: BrowZine officially went on sale in October 2012 and response has been terrific. We have received mention at countless conferences, received a 4 out of 5 star review from the Charleston Advisor (thirdiron.com/charleston) and, most importantly acquired hundreds of institutional customers in nine countries around the world. In particular, response from end users has been great and we are excited to evolve the product to continue delighting researchers.
Q: Are all publishers available in BrowZine? If not, why is that?
A: BrowZine links to content from hundreds of publishers, both big and small. Since BrowZine is only directing end-users to content already subscribed to by their library, not aggregating and reselling journals, we can represent journals provided we have a source for metadata. The biggest obstacle to not showing all journals a library may subscribe to is that not all publishers make their metadata readily available; fortunately, the vast majority do, particular scholarly publishers.
Q: What has been your greatest success and challenge thus far?
A: Our greatest success continues to be the validation of the BrowZine concept. BrowZine is based on the idea that people value being able to read journals and that they prefer to do so on mobile devices. Thousands of people each month show us that this theory has been a sound one.
Our biggest challenge, which is also a blessing, is simply keeping up with demand! There is a lot of interest in BrowZine from around the world and a lot of product requests coming from customers. We have organized a terrific sales and development team to manage all of this and we will continue to grow our operations.
Q: What is next for BrowZine and Third Iron?
A: Next on the horizon for us is an expansion of BrowZine from the tablet space to smart phones. While BrowZine was designed for reading full-size PDF documents, more and more publishers are producing content in epub format for better readability on small screen devices and at the same time, BrowZine has evolved into both a reader and a current awareness tool. This Spring, we will be releasing both an iPhone and Android phone version of BrowZine which will feature syncing between your phone and tablet device. We think this capability will really streamline the way researchers encounter information in both short term (phone) and longer term (tablet) ways and keeping these in sync is essential for this to work well.
Being a small team working very closely with librarians and researchers, we continue to see opportunities to develop products to serve both. We look forward to releasing these over time. Happy BrowZine!
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