It’s not just the way we read, write, publish and buy books that’s changing. It’s the way we talk about them, too – today’s announcements from Kobo, GoodReads and Facebook are just the latest in a series of social reading developments.
The Federal Government’s annual Get Reading! campaign (which continues till the end of this month – you can buy the books here) is once again leading the way when it comes to social ways to bring us back to books.
Their website includes forums like this one on ereaders (you can sign in using your Google, Facebook or Twitter account) for the first time this year. They’ve also got active and friendly Facebook and Twitter profiles.
You can post your own review of the “50 Books You Can’t Put Down” (here’s my brief equivalent: I’ve read Jessica Rudd’s short story “Pinata” in the free book available to those who buy one of the 50 titles, 10 Short Stories You Must Read in 2011, and found it poignant, romantic, clever, fun and original).
Get Reading! offers dedicated iPhone, iPad and Android apps too.
I’m surprised to see that according to the PDF catalogue of the 50 books on the Get Reading! site, there are still some titles that are not available as ebooks. OK, surprised, and ANNOYED. With the publishers, that is. Come on, people, catch up with your customers’ needs and wants.
Another initiative to encourage Australians to get reading is The Novel Challenge, the adult equivalent of the MS Read-a-thon. I looked forward to the latter every year as a child, and am finding myself feeling the same way about the grown-up version.
It’s a great way to push yourself along with the reading, and raise money for a good cause at the same time (they’ve raised more than $70,000 so far this year). The program has been underway for a couple of months, but you can sign up to read as many books – and attract as much sponsorship – as possible in 30 days during October.
And why wouldn’t you? You’re probably going to be reading anyway.
I love the fact that you can sign up as an individual or team, and track your progress in comparison with other participants online. The website allows you to set up a Facebook-like profile page to document books read, those you’re planning to read, and funds raised. Buttons allow easy sharing of the link on several social media platforms.
Feel free to sponsor me. I need an incentive to get into my current book (not a strong opening chapter, obviously, as I put it down a few days ago and have felt no compulsion to return).
In any case, I feel somewhat frustratingly as though I’ve been too busy talking about books and writing (in new, digitally social ways) to get much reading done lately.
In the past month I’ve participated in setting the program for if:book’s Bookcamp unconference on the day it was held as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival, and contributed $45 via crowd-funding platform Pozible to ensure the Emerging Writers Festival’s Digital Writers Conference in Brisbane actually happens on October 14 (see their website to find out how the organisers raised $4000 ahead of the event, and for program details).
At another event in Canberra, the Australian Security Research Centre’s forum on developments in e-publication, there was no need to take notes during sessions or swap contact details with delegates during the tea breaks. The Centre collated selected business cards and PowerPoint presentations and emailed them to all attendees a few days later.
Highlights of that event included hearing about ANU E Press’s ground-breaking digital publishing model (they have 3-6 staff and publish 50-60 ebooks a year), the National Library’s ebook program (next month they will publish three titles simultaneously for print and digital readers while work continues on a multimedia or enhanced ebook due out next year), and the ACT Government’s iCabinet program (IT staff worked – with some tips from Federal spooks – to “lock down” iPads so that ministers can securely store and view cabinet documents on the go).
As for talking to my friends about books, while I continue to attend regular book club meetings (we’re talking about The Slap this month, timely given the television adaptation is about to premiere), I’ve also signed up to the aforementioned social reading platform GoodReads.com.
GoodReads allows you to quickly and easily share your thoughts on books you’re reading or have read, and to view reviews and star ratings from fellow book lovers.
It offers lists of must-read titles in areas of interest (the best books of the 20th century kept me scrolling and clicking for hours), and even allows you to scan barcodes from the books in your existing library to add them to your own chosen categories.
It’s a great way of keeping track of what you’ve read and what you like (or don’t), and making sure you retain a healthy ratio of classics and literary fiction to genre and trash in your mix.
So, Facebook friends, beware, GoodReads updates aplenty are coming your way.
Speaking of being wary, part of me is just that about Facebook’s announcements today, but hopeful too. Personal recommendations from like-minded friends and colleagues are a great way to find new favourite authors and reads.
Don’t you think?
Charlotte’s posts on books, digital publishing and social media also appear on Twitter (@ebookish), Facebook (www.facebook.com/ebookish) and at ebookish.com.au.