A good way to know the future is to look at what younger generations take as given. Recent surveys indicate that many young people avoid reading e-books because they are not yet part of a larger social network, but that may soon change, says technology writer Clive Thompson. “Every form of media has migrated online and benefited from conversation. The newspaper is broken into articles that get blogged and get turned into conversations.” Often times, he says, the most interesting part of an idea, written in article form, is the discussion that surrounds it on the Internet and not the article itself.
There have already been attempts at making books more friendly to social media, such as Findings, a service which shares highlights passages of popular books, or Amazon’s attempts to involve authors in Q & A sessions through the Kindle.
“Books are going to provoke the best conversations because people think really deeply about them,” says Thompson. “And people bring a certain level of intellectual seriousness to them that they don’t even necessarily bring to newspapers.”
But all attempts to socialize books have mostly fallen on deaf ears. Is that because reading books is an inherently private activity?
Why I’m curious:
Big Think has raised some interesting points. In the last couple of years, a number of book reading social networking sites have been popping up on the Internet, on our Facebook pages, and are even available as an app. Goodreads is a community site that allows readers to rate and discover new books. Users a build a profile of book knowledge, such as books they’re read, books they want to read, book reviews, and share it with friends. Goodreads also uses Facebook’s Open Graph to push notifications and updates to your feed. Findings is a community that allows readers to find, share, and highlight passages of ebooks and web content.
For some, book reading is a purely private, one-on-one experience. You want to curl up and dive right into the story, sometimes it take some effort to block any distractions, and just focus on the passages. And as readers go deeper into the plot, characters start to develop, and they start to delight us, anger us, or puzzle us. As we finish a story, I think it’s natural for people to want to share their thoughts and and reflect on the impact of the story, what they thought of the ending. Some want to connect and exchange theories on ‘what happened’?
Book reading and sharing is indeed a social experience. Remember the book clubs and book reviews that consisted of sharing a single passage and your reaction? These activities might resonate better with the generation of yesteryear, but these human behaviors are still relevant. I’m curious to see which emerging social platforms will develop and capitalize on how we are reading and sharing.