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Social Reading

Social reading is everything that surrounds the experience of reading electronic books (ebooks).

Traditional books, physical paper books, are fantastic. You can read them cover to cover, bookmark them, dogear them, write notes in the margin, underline your favourite passages, treasure them, keep them, and lend them to your friends.

Ebooks should let you do these things too—but sometimes they don't.

Ebooks should make sharing easier: the bookmarks that you make, your notes, your progress through a book. All these things and more can and should be done with ebooks. And in addition, you should be able to save, share, email and store your whole reading experience, and read along with friends, as in a reading group. This is social reading.

Even if you don't want to share—and you certainly don't have to—your reading experience should belong to you: you should own the books you buy, and your bookmarks, and you should be able to save them and take them with you and save them for the future, whatever happens, and whatever reading platform or application you use. This is social reading too.

Open Bookmarks has developed a checklist for social reading to help readers get the most out of social reading, and help publishers and developers make social reading easier, more personal, and more open. Find out more.

Some examples of Social Reading

  1. You're reading an ebook. You find a bit you like, and you select the text and email it to a friend.
  2. While reading an ebook on an ereader, you choose to send the reading data to a social reading service. The service records all your bookmarks so you can search and return to them later.
  3. A teacher makes a number of annotations in an ebook. She exports them, sends them to her students, who import them into their own copies of the book.
  4. You link your favourite ereader to a social reading service. Over time, the service creates a virtual bookshelf of all the books you've read.
  5. You're reading a book on one device, but half-way through you switch to another ereader. Your position and bookmarks are automatically synchronised.
  6. You decide to clear some space on your computer, and delete some ebooks—accidentally or not. Your reading experience, bookmarks and annotations are archived separately, and are safe.

... and more to come.