For many reading books is a social activity. Whether you belong to a book club, or you are just talking about the book that you are reading with your spouse, we typically like to share what we are reading and what we think about what we are reading. Sounds like a logical use of social networks, don’t you think? Thus it has been surprising to me that neither my Barnes and Noble nook nor the Amazon Kindle have even the simplest of social networking features, such as sharing what book you are reading.
Amazon is addressing the lack of social networking features in the next update to the Kindle, due in May. After the update readers will be able to share book passages on Facebook and Twitter directly from the Kindle. What I find interesting about this feature is how it expands the way Kindle uses its wireless connection for more than downloading e-Books.
Another feature the Kindle is gaining is sharing of highlighted text. Amazon will collect what readers are highlighting in a book, and aggregate that to tell you how many other readers have highlighted the same text. There are mixed reactions to this new feature, with some concerned about privacy issues. Amazon says the feature, called Popular Highlights, can be turned off, though it is not clear whether turning it off means you just don’t see the information even though what you highlight is still collected by Amazon.
Whether or not highlight sharing remains on the Kindle, I do think integration with social networking is a logical add-on to e-Book readers that provide value to reading e-Books. My personal hope is that Barnes and Noble follows suit and adds the same type of features to the nook.