Some really interesting stuff out there today, so let’s get right to it.
- First up are a couple of posts inspired by the Wall Street Journal article Your E-Book Is Reading You. Before you read either of the posts below, you should read the WSJ article. Several reasons:
- While it’s long, it covers the subject in depth and from many different angles, from privacy concerns to how such information could benefit authors;
- Both of the posts I’m about to mention focus on certain considerations while not paying attention to or entirely missing others; and
- These posts are sure to be the first of many on this subject. Joe Konrath (@JAKonrath), for one, has yet to weigh in.
- All right, then, on to the posts:
- Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) take is largely positive, despite its title: Your E-Reader is a Spy.
- Clare Langley-Hawthorne’s view on The Kill Zone, What Your E-Reader Knows…, is more balanced.
- In my own comment to Clare’s post, I wrote: Very interesting but not surprising, given what internet companies have been collecting for years. One of the great ironies here is that Google’s mantra supposedly is “don’t be evil” (a jab at Microsoft).
This is definitely a good news/bad news kind of story as other commenters have noted. What’s worst, to me, is that the data-gathering was being done without e-reader-users’ knowledge. That’s been a problem elsewhere and has only partially been addressed through opt-in/opt-out options. [It turns out, I discovered after posting this comment, that Amazon lets its users know it’s going to collect that data in the user agreement. But how many of those users actually read that agreement?] Then comes the question of how the data is being used and who’s profiting from it. If I as a writer CAN profit from this information, I want to have the opportunity, just like the e-reader companies do. Finally, it also raises (again) the questions of the distinction between privacy and anonymity and whether we’re confusing or conflating the two.
- Nathan Bransford’s (@NathanBransford) post, Are We Stripping Modern Books Bare? fits in with this conversation, although it doesn’t appear he was aware of the e-reader article when he wrote it. In part he argues that e-books, because they don’t have (at least, not yet) the profit-driven pressures that legacy-published books do, they can be more experimental and less constrained by the demands of commerce. It’ll be interesting to see how, or if, that changes as e-book publishers get a better handle on their readers’ choices, behaviors, and tastes–or if they’re allowed to.
- Staying with the topic of engaging with your readers, guest poster Judy Lee Dunn (@CatsEyeWriter) offers 5 Steps to Telling Engaging Stories on Your Blog on Write to Done. Her steps are fiction techniques you should all be familiar with, applied to non-fiction posts.
- And finally, on a much lighter note, Robert Bruce (@robertbruce76) asks on 101 Books, Do Audio Books Count? when it comes to “reading” books. I’m largely agnostic on this subject, except when it comes to listening to an audio book while driving in city traffic. Then I have to ask, “Are you really listening to the book, are you really driving, or neither?”
That’s all for today. Have a great Monday. (Yes, it is possible!)