The UK’s Joosr: Reading for Those With No Time To Read

In News by Dennis Abrams

‘All the key information of the original title but without all the pages’: a startup aimed at commuters offers ‘bite-size mobile learning’ in nonfiction.
On the commute in London. Image - iStockphoto: liorpt

Readers on the Tube in London. Image – iStockphoto: liorpt

By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

Can Nonfiction Book Condensations Attract Commuters?
Writing for PALife, Molly Dyson reports that Joosr has launched in the UK, offering “downloadable nonfiction book summaries that can be read in just 20 minutes.”

Joosr logo linedThe app, which is subscription based, provides summaries of “some of the world’s most influential books on business, entrepreneurship, careers, money and leadership,” put together by a “team of highly trained professional writers.” A free trial is offered by Joosr who want to give it a try.

Designed specifically for mobile devices, the Joosr promise is books chosen especially for commuters to read while traveling to and from work. The trial library contains more than 100 titles; 20 new books will be added each month.

Dyson writes, “Each book provides all the key information of the original title but without all the pages. So whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, a manager looking to inspire, or want to quickly progress up the career ladder, the Joosr business and self-help summaries clearly present ideas and advice from leading thinkers at the world’s most innovative companies.”

Co-founder Darren Boyd-Annells is quoted as saying:

Darren Boyd-Annells

Darren Boyd-Annells

“Finding time to keep up with reading and learning is a real challenge for many professionals. We found that six out of 10 people said they’re simply too busy to read as much as they would like. So the beauty of Joosr is you can access all the key information from a book in just 20 minutes–perfect for the commute.

“The summaries can be read offline on iPhones and iPads. This means that on the Tube on your way to work you could read a book on how to be more assertive – and then put what you learned into action in a meeting that same day. We call it bite-size mobile learning and it’s taking off very quickly. The response has been amazing.”

At The Guardian, Diane Shipley takes a closer look:

“Initially, this horrified me. I ranted that we had lost our ability to concentrate, that authors’ words are sacred. But then I looked at what the app was actually doing and realized it could be a good idea.

“The app has more than 100 nonfiction books in a radically condensed format available on a subscription. Think self-help bestsellers like Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning and dense science texts like A Brief History of Time (sorry Dr Hawking, I did try). With the first type of book, readers can pick out useful tips without wading through pages of case studies; with the latter, a briefer version might be the only way to get information to stick.”

Noting that Joosr’s version A Brief History of Time “wasn’t dumbed down,” and that the explanations could have been even simpler, she acknowledges that “I did learn that particles act like waves and that a twin who lived on a mountain would age more quickly than one who lived at sea level, which is more than I knew when I woke up. Who knows, maybe I will try the full-length book again one day.”

Some people, Shipley observes, are all too ready to dismiss this type of condensed reading:

Diane Shipley

Diane Shipley

“It’s easy for literary journalists to forget that for many people, the choice isn’t between reading Gillian Flynn and Gustave Flaubert, but between reading and not.

“Life is hard, Orange is the New Black is back on Netflix, and according to Joosr’s research, six out of 10 of us complain about not reading as much as we’d like. With libraries closing and zero-hours contracts proliferating, £1.50 for a quick read is an affordable luxury; splashing out on a Booker prize-winning hardback isn’t always so easy.

“Considering that 5.2 million people in the UK are functionally illiterate, can we afford to look down on anyone for not reading the ‘right kind’ of book?”

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.