Dispatches from the Digital Revolution
By JEN BRAY
Reading has already changed (and is changing) due to the creation of the ebook and ereading device, but some ebook industry insiders think this era will be remembered as a minor blip in the evolution of the book. According to Publishers Weekly, publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October discussed the future of the ebook, which could very well be dominated by the “networked book.”
Enter two new terms into your ebook vocab: networked book and social reading.
With the popularity of social media networks, and the “e” transformation of printed pages, books will inevitably become the next socially networked entity. Essentially, this means that ebooks will have social media capabilities to enable social reading. According to digitalbookworld.com, “Nielsen has reported that Americans spend nearly a quarter of their time online on social networking sites and blogs.”
As both ebooks and social media continue to gain popularity, it makes sense to tie the two together.
Many of the social initiatives have been slightly neglected by publishers and readers in an industry currently facing big changes. It could be that publishers, ereader makers, and consumers are focused on the latest ereaders and tablets and many social initiatives are still in beta, or just haven’t been promoted.
But they are out there and multiplying quickly.
Both Readmill and Copia have introduced apps. Google Books plans to use Google+. Amazon integrates Public Notes on the Kindle. Barnes & Noble’s Nook is equipped with Nook Friends. Kobo has just introduced social networked-equipped ereader Kobo Vox.
But because the social reading initiatives have yet to take off, it’s difficult to see if readers are as dedicated to their social reading networks as they are to Facebook. Although few initiatives could take on Facebook, social reading has the potential to gain popularity. Social reading networks could become the new book club—only instantaneous. They could also let you mark passages and instantly share them with friends, colleagues, or classmates, much like a tweet or status update. Social networks could also be implemented in the classroom and promote educational discussions.
There are many opportunities in the world of social reading…but one question remains: will it catch on?
Future posts will examine this quiet, but growing idea of social reading including a more in-depth look at social initiatives that have been launched and the implications of social reading.
Next week: A closer look at Amazon, Google, and Barnes & Noble’s social reading initiatives.