Social reading—why and how?

One of the reasons certain books are read by so many people is because we like having ready-made topics of discussion—to facilitate social interaction. The next time you engage a stranger in conversation, notice how animated the two of you become after discovering you’ve read the same popular novel. Don’t you occasionally choose to read a book primarily because you want to know what everyone else is talking about?

Books can be conversation catalysts, and last week, J.A. Konrath pointed out that it should be easier to launch a discussion along with a new ebook. “What if you don’t join a social network to discuss books,” he asked, “but instead you joined a book that was a social network?” I was impressed by his ability to condense the technological concept into a tag line. Companies are developing social reading platforms, but their programmers don’t always find themselves on the average reader’s wavelength. Consequently, it can be difficult for them to persuade consumers of a need for their product. Konrath’s suggestion was perceptive.

After seeing Konrath’s blogpost, my neighbor Dan Trout said, “That was one of the most Outside the Box things I’ve read in ages, and with very minor alterations to a few of his descriptions, the technology is in place to handle all of it!”

social reading

It’s true. When I began paying attention, I found all of these social reading startups:

24symbols

Appitude

COPIA

ReadSocial

Before any of these social reading platforms take off, consumer demand will need to be more significant. There’s also the matter of licensing publication rights.

Which social reading software is your money on? Know of any others?

~~~

Readmill [Added on September 14, 2011]

Subtext [Added on October 26, 2011]

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