Is Making Books Social a Good Thing？
As virtually every form of media from newspapers to television shows becomes more socially aware, the book remains stubbornly anti-social. Despite the rapid growth in e-books and the launch of a number of services designed to add social features to books, the act of reading is still a fairly solitary thing. Author and tech blogger Clive Thompson says he sees a future in which books become just as social as other forms of writing, with comments and conversations integrated into them or revolving around them — but is that what readers want?
Thompson (who is currently working on his first book, about the future of thought) says that he believes books can attract a higher quality of conversation:
Books are going to provoke the best conversations because people think really deeply about them. And people bring a certain level of intellectual seriousness to them that they don’t even necessarily bring to newspapers. I am absolutely convinced that being able to see what other people have said about a book and to talk about it and respond to it is going to be a freakishly huge boon for books
We’ve written before at GigaOM and PaidContent about startups that want to add social features to the reading experience, including Findings (a service for sharing highlighted passages in books, where the interview with Thompson appeared), as well as Readmill and Goodreads. And Amazon has made some attempts to add social elements to its e-reader, such as the @author program that allows participating writers — such as Tim Ferriss and J.A. Konrath — to take comments or questions from writers directly through the Kindle platform. But none of these have really taken off so far, it seems.
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