Amazon have released details of their next software update for Kindle and a key thrust is to make books social. They will do this via two new features:
Public Notes – This feature lets Kindle users choose to make their book notes and highlights available for others to see. Any Kindle user – including authors, their fans, book reviewers, professors and passionate readers everywhere – can opt-in to share their thoughts on book passages and ideas with friends, family members, colleagues, and the greater Kindle community of people who love to read. This is a new way for readers to share their excitement and knowledge about books and get more from the books they read.
Before You Go… – When you reach the end of the book, we will now offer a seamless experience that lets you immediately rate the book, share a message about the book with your social network, get personalized recommendations for what to read next, and see more books by the same author.
I think these are really powerful. So long as the filtering works well (e.g. by my social network) Public Notes will add significantly to the reading experience. If I’m ploughing through a book and Jeff Bezos has made a comment, then I will take time out to read it. Similarly for any of you who I recognise by name or who are plugged into me via another social network, say Facebook. Additionally, my six year old daughter loves to talk with her friends about the books they are reading together – this sort of social experience enables that right inside the reading experience. I’m not part of a book club, but I’m guessing people who are would jump on this for between meeting chat.
The Before You Go feature is one that I would like a lot. At the moment when I finish a book I make a note to leave a review when I’m next at a computer and often it ends up as a task in my list which is a bit of a pain. Leaving the review from my Kindle at the point when I finish the book will be much better, provided it can go to a review service I like and trust (Amazon owns LibraryThing, which is pretty good, but I would have to port my history from VisualBookshelf which is not ideal).
The other features we will get with the software update are real page numbers (surprised someone didn’t figure that one out at the beginning…) and a new newspaper and magazine layout.