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Innovation

Social book reading in the digital age

* Jennifer Leggio is on vacationGuest editorial by Andy SantamariaI know what you're thinking. You read the title of this post and thought, "Books have always been social, we share them with friends, form book clubs, and bend at Oprah's will.
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor on

* Jennifer Leggio is on vacation

Guest editorial by Andy Santamaria

I know what you're thinking. You read the title of this post and thought, "Books have always been social, we share them with friends, form book clubs, and bend at Oprah's will."

That's all true, but like many things, It's going to be re-invented for the digital age. It's also true that ebook readers aren't catching on as fast as iPods did. Amazon sold 500,000 units in 2008, which is pretty good but not anywhere near a runaway success. Barnes and Noble just announced their Nook, which looks pretty cool -- and I own a Kindle 2. I think 2010 will unveil a few more competitors to the market and then we'll get into the inevitable format war nonsense.

Social reading. I'm not talking about B&N's very limited feature of lending a book to a friend who also owns a nook.

What if you could have a book lover's profile, like a digital version of your dusty bookshelf?

This could be something like a profile of all your books that you've read, are reading, and will read. It could be easily sociable, so there could be widgets similar to the way gdgt members have a gadget profile.

What if you could easily share passages, quotes, and concepts on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc?

This is the no-brainer part that seems mandatory for something to catch on. It's not the only thing you can do but these platforms have optimized themselves for sharing. Being able to share your favorite passages would be great. Keeping them archived online would be even better. You could search them and pull them out for presentations, general reading, and helping you organize data. Now I'll take it one step further.

What if you could read books that were annotated by literary stars and influencers?

I can't even tell you how excited I'd be if I could read a book on my kindle with custom annotations from Malcolm Gladwell, Chris Brogan, or Clay Shirky. I would pay twice the price for a book that was annotated by someone I admire and learn from. This could create a whole other channel of influencers. People who read books and take good notes to explain things. They could have their own blog where they just read books and annotate them along the way.

All this and more is going to be possible with advent and innovation of ebooks. It's only a matter of time.

Andy Santamaria writes about creative businesses in the Twin Cities on his blog Connecting Me To You. He's also been featured as a guest writer on building43 here and here. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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