Monday, August 13, 2012

Discussion: Technology and E-Books

I recently came across an article in the Wall Street Journal, Your E-Book Is Reading You (found the article through On The Media).  In a nutshell the article is about how Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Google are able to track your reading habits when using with an e-reader and then what they are doing with that information.

It's kind of interesting.  But also kind of scary and 1984-ish.  From a marketing and PR prospective I think it's genius.  Publishers using this information to better suit their target market and sell more books?  Awesome.  Knowing the average time it takes someone to finish a certain book and how many times they picked the book up?  Being able to get this type of information is mind-blowing.

But then on other hand, I fear that publishers (and maybe even authors) will start using this data too much.  Instead of using the information as a tool they might abuse it and only publish what the trends are (like the ever growing vampire/paranormal books that seem to take over the YA section of bookstores).  Also, book series and trilogy's seem to be a huge trend in the book world right now.  I love reading a good series every now and then.  Getting to really know the characters and getting lost in their world is amazing.  But standalone books are just as amazing sometimes.

I'm undecided with how I feel about being tracked by our e-reading habits.  It's kind of cool knowing the average time it takes someone to finish The Hunger Games (seven hours, according to the WSJ article), or the point when most people put down a book and never pick it back up again.  Then at the same time it's just like leave me alone already.  But I suppose that's the technological world we live in now.

Fellow bookworms, I want to know what YOU think publishers tracking your reading habits.  For it?  Against it?  Going to read more books on your Nook or giving up your e-reader entirely?

19 comments :

  1. I'm with you on the idea that we need more solid standalone books to consume in all genres instead of just trilogy after trilogy.

    That article is an interesting read to be sure.

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  2. I didn't realize they could do this, let alone that they would do it. It's not enough to make me not read ebooks, but I don't like the thought of it. I'm also concerned that authors and publishers will use the information to give us more of the same books. They will see what people like and then keep trying to repeat that formula over and over again. I'm also think that one of the things they will use is the knowledge that most of the people who read The Hunger Games buy the sequel right away. I agree- I think we may get a lot of bad series this way. That an author will be forced to flog a dead horse of a series forever. (I'm thinking of the Stephanie Plum series which I haven't found to be good for- wow- a while. Possibly a decade of mediocre books?)

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  3. I find it scary. When buying an e-reader you do not sign anything letting them collect your personal information (and I find reading a very personal kind of information). On the other hand, those of us who request review copies are tracked too by sharing our reviews with the publishers.

    I tihnk it's a very tricky issue but what the basic questions is whether we want to share the information of what we read or not and whether they are legally entitled to get that information from us witout our consent.

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  4. Ummm didn't know about that but I kind of agree that it's kind of weird but still not the scary type of weird. And yes, we really do need more standalone novels which I feel good ones aren't that much anymore, like even Contemporary reads are now being turned into series. Thanks for sharing that with us <3
    xoxo, Mariam @Book-A-Holic

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  5. I very much dislike the idea of my reading habits being tracked beyond what I'm willingly giving out on my blog. I do not need or want people to track this information. This is exactly why I did my research before I bought my ereader. I bought one that was not affiliated with any store. When I buy ebooks from amazon/B&N, I immediately take off the DRNs and change the formats of my ebooks. With the drns, the seller has the rights to take the book back once you've bought it.

    I also do not like the idea of publishers and authors using the information. I don't want a bunch of books out there that are only out in the world to sell copies. I want authors to come up with something original, something that makes them stand out, and not just a bunch of the same stuff that is already out there. It would also mean that maybe publishers won't take a chance on a author who does have something original, something that can be exceptional.

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  6. Along with all other sites that have access to vast amounts of private data, it freaks me out that they are tracking this. All the other ones I've heard about I've been able to adjust my settings to allow for more privacy (Google, facebook). I'll be sending Amazon a message asking for a way to opt out of their tracking.

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  7. Well, I've always enjoyed the feeling of reading an actual book more than on my kindle and nook, even as I have both. But that disturbs me, because I really don't want to be stuck in this vampire and werewolf phase for so long. Of course, standalone books would be nice, because then I wouldn't have to spend so much money. :) I'm not particularly scared about this, because I knew it was happening, because, well, almost everything we do now is tracked by an ad company or some other entity...

    Kim at snugglemybooks.wordpress.com

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  8. I don't really mind if they watch my reading habits if that means they can give me better recommendations, but I agree that I don't want them to keep publishing the same thing all the time. In this information-age that we live in I think this is probably the least of our worries, privacy wise. Big companies can find out a lot more about you from a quick google search.

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  9. I actually had no idea that this was happening. People can tell what I'm reading and how fast I'm reading it? I'm all for the information being used to track trends and point them out and work with them BUT I don't want it to mean that there will be less of the things that are not as "popular" or "trendy" like standalones or certain genres. I love having access to a VARIETY of books, and the possibility that publishers might start taking this information TOO seriously and catering all the books they publish to match it is definitely a little freaky.

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  10. Totally against it! I'll keep my paper books closer at hand if that starts to happen more and more. I am put out by series that could easily be wrapped up in one book.

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  11. I don't have an ereader, so it's not that big of a deal. Unfortunately, I already see that trend in the publishing world- so much junk out there! I don't think there's a huge difference between ordering a book from Amazon and getting an ebook, though. Both produce data.

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  12. I don't know that it bothers me as much as just slightly annoys me. I mean, really? You have to track our reading habits? Can't you just check sales, reviews, and library hold lists?

    I've pretty much decided that in this era everything you do is tracked by anyone who has the ability to do it. It's what happens when you log on to the internet. If I worry too much about who sees what then I'll lose my mind!

    But, I do agree with wanting more stand alone novels. There are some series that I think are well done, but most are few and far between!

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  13. totally creepy but i guess it works for them to know just when a book went to hell. I hate the new trilogy trend that's going on because now the books suck until book three.

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  14. I don't really have a problem with it. If they want to know how much time it takes me to finish a book, that's fine. And for the using it for their publishing decision: I think that also happens with physical books. They can all track it, so they use it to their advantage.

    And I agree that there should be more stand alones!

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  15. I think it's neat that they CAN do that, but creepy and kind of crossing a line (the same kind of line that lots of other companies cross, though) I think it's cool to be able to find out the average reading time etc, but they shouldn't be tracking individuals' information and using that to change what they publish and sell.

    As for series, I was actually just thinking about that. I really would like to just read single books sometimes, just the one book and then you can move on to the next thing. Trying to read so many series gets confusing and annoying when I always have some cliffhanger to remember or trying to remember what happened in the last book.

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  16. I think it's great that they can look into all of this stuff because it will help us as readers in the long run to enjoy books more. However, I don't think they should read too much into it, and I worry that some publishers will forget that some people are infact different. While millions of people might purchase 'fifty shades of grey' or 'twilight' or 'wuthering heights' and might read them over and over again and read them quickly, other people might not like those books. I'd hate for us to turn into a more trend obsessed world than what we already have!

    I'm not too worried about it being creepy because I imagine this is the case with many other technologies we use, such as gaming consoles and even websites. Also as a reviewer, I don't think this affects me so much because I tend to read review books on my kindle, which I don't think can be tracked. I think people today are too worried about online saftey. If use the internet wisely there shouldn't be any problems. The rest is just there to help out authors, publishers, readers and anyone else get more out of the books in question.

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  17. I find it rather predictable to be honest. So much else about us is already being tracked (google the Target marketing system knowing a girl was pregnant before her father did...) that e-readers don't really bother me that much. At least so far marketing departments don't seem to have found trends strong enough to completely destroy the diversity of other parts of our shopping experiences, and I find it likely that readers have even farther flung preferences than a lot of markets. This all boils down to me being excited at the possibility that they will figure out ways to streamline my reading experience in ways I don't even realize could be improved right now really. I also read plenty of paper books still since libraries around me don't have a large enough selection of Kindle books to borrow :).

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  18. I didn't know they could track what's on an eReader to THAT extent, but I guess it's okay? I mean, if I pick up a book a thousand times and take forever to finish it, I would hope they would take that into consideration (although, I think I'd rather the publisher know, than my neighbourhood bookseller). Of course, I"m sure booksellers have done this already through the years as they track what sells and what doesn't.

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  19. I'm for it if they take it in stride. For instance, I'm one of those that turn off my wireless in order to "keep" borrowed library books longer than the lendable time allotted. If my wireless is off the entire time I'm reading a book, like on my Kindle, then the tracking data will be off (as in not correct) as well.

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