A new reading platform has been created for the iPad that allows users to interact with each other while reading their digital books.
BookShout! has been developed by technology company Rethink Books for the Christian market.
The tool has been designed to stimulate and facilitate conversation in church small groups as they work through the same books together.
Users are encouraged to buy books together and create reading circles, allowing them to read books with their small group, friends from school, people from church, and even the author.
Beyond the simple highlighting and note-taking functions, BookShout! hooks into Facebook and other social networks like Twitter to connect users and allow them to share their notes and thoughts on the books they are reading.
Through their Facebook connections, users can create reading circles of any size, which can be made public or private, and can be virtual or meet at a physical location.
BookShare! allows members of the reading circle to see what others highlight, as well as read their notes and comments with a unique multi-colored highlighting system.
Other readers' notes can be turned off without having to "un-friend" them.
The tool also allows authors to share their own notes on their books or even associated sermons.
"This is why BookShout! is such a perfect fit for the Christian audience," said Rethink Books founder and chief executive Jason Illian.
"We are all part of the body of Christ, and we were designed to engage around the Bible and other meaningful books. We are simply using technology to enhance our interactions, both in person and virtually.
"The web is actually being rewritten around people. We're moving from being viewers of a concert to actual band members on the stage."
BookShare! is launching first on the iPad, but will soon be available on iPhones, the web, and Android devices.
"As both an author and a publisher, I can't tell you how excited we as an industry are about this new platform helping to create community around our books," said Mike Hyatt, former chief executive of Thomas Nelson Publishers and now a Rethink Books board member.
"What's most heartening is that it will help readers discover – through their own friends and circles – the books that will be most meaningful and enjoyable to them."
On the web: itunes.apple.com/