Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reading and Community, the Next e-Book Revolution

I don't have an e-reader yet, though my wife loves her Kindle. I spend a fair portion of my day staring at computer screens, and so when I come home at night it's often a relief to settle in with text that doesn't have an ambient glow. I also think it's worth waiting on the e-reader until some more of the bugs get worked out.

But then I read something like this Book Riot article on the future for e-books, and I think... maybe I'll get that iPad soon.
An isolated reader can’t possibly have all of the answers or see the full range of meaning in what they’re reading. As a member of a social reading community, I can learn from other members and share and be recognized for my own ideas and knowledge.
I think about my favorite books, and they're sprawling, complex labyrinths I would never try to review: Ulysses, Endgame, Bluebeard, Against the Day, Lolita, Good Morning Midnight. I love them because even having read them, I know there's more to them I'm missing. I could read them again and again and again (and in some cases, I have).

Imagine embedding the last half centuries' literary analysis and criticism in the text. I've re-read parts of Don Quixote along with Nabokov's lectures and found the experience enlightening. Could an e-book really let me do that?

Just as importantly, built in marginalia could help suck the terror out of some of the books I've shied away from. I'm looking at you, Remembrance of Things Past. An enhanced e-book could link readers the way that sites like LibraryThing and Goodreads already try to.

Alright, publishers, let's make it happen. Who do we talk to? How do we start?

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