When I try to imagine the ideal partnership between libraries and social networkings sites, I tend to think of the concept of social reading. I’ve rather enjoyed this particular feature while reading Kindle ebooks. The Kindle ebook reader allows you to share quotes directly from the book through Facebook and Twitter. I found this to be particularly useful during some of my previous courses at SJSU where my textbook turned out to be available as an ebook through Amazon. This meant that I could essentially share thoughts about class readings with current classmates or other library professionals I followed on Twitter. It opened up a whole new network of learning for me that went beyond the boundaries presented when using our content management systems, D2L.
Many libraries are currently trying to navigate the often complicated landscape of ebook lending. The most popular ebook distributor these days is Overdrive. Although Overdrive has tried to improve its appeal by partnering with Amazon to distribute Kindle ebooks in addition to their ePUB versions, the Overdrive ebook media console app leaves a lot to be desired in the way of social reading. I realize there are DRM issues (ugh) and that theoretically you don’t own the book so why have the ability to highlight content when the ebook is only on your device temporarily, but couldn’t there still be some way for the reader to highlight content if only to share a short quote via Facebook and Twitter?
The future of reading will look so different from what it has been in the past or even what it looks like today. In order to be able to offer a significantly richer reading experience, ebooks should be media rich and allow readers to share and highlight thoughts. It can be frustrating as a librarian to know that this kind of technology exists but remains out of reach for our users because distributors and vendors have yet to catch-up.