“I always feel like e-books are watching me” – R. Ockwell

Marc Sanchez Jul 2, 2012

Maybe you’re sitting on the beach or by the lake right now taking in a long 4th of July vacation week in the sun. You packed light: swimsuit, a loose shirt (the kind that won’t hurt too much when it hits your sunburn), flip flops, and an e-reader. Your cares go out with each ebb and flow of the water as you melt into some serious summer reading. Well, don’t look now, but YOUR BOOK MAY BE WATCHING YOU. Sure you can conveniently take notes in the margins of your e-book, but that same book might just be taking notes on you too.

The Wall Street Journal has the story:

The major new players in e-book publishing—Amazon, Apple and Google—can easily track how far readers are getting in books, how long they spend reading them and which search terms they use to find books. Book apps for tablets like the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook record how many times readers open the app and how much time they spend reading. Retailers and some publishers are beginning to sift through the data, gaining unprecedented insight into how people engage with books.

Here’s another way for advertisers and marketers to monetize all that “big data” that’s being collected. Does this mean everybody’s going to know it took you four tries to get through “The Sound and the Fury”? No. Your personal information is still anonymous (plus that book takes way too much thinking for a summer read).

Again from the Journal:

Some of the findings confirm what retailers already know by glancing at the best-seller lists. For example, Nook users who buy the first book in a popular series like “Fifty Shades of Grey” or “Divergent,” a young-adult series by Veronica Roth, tend to tear through all the books in the series, almost as if they were reading a single novel.

The data could be used to help your reading experience too. It could, for example figure out the place in a story where readers tend to lose interest and add an interactive element like a picture or video.

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