Differing forecasts for social reading made for a lively panel discussion on Tuesday featuring representatives from Kobo, Tumblr, and Germany’s Readmill, all trailblazers in the social reading milieu.
Tumblr’s Rachel Fershleiser described social reading as “all the ways I can talk about books, including the author-reader interactions.” Tony O’Donoghue, also with Kobo, said that the book is now a dynamic entity, no longer static, and that social reading is a way of tapping into that paradigm shift. “The idea that reading is private and solitary is becoming a thing of the past. Social reading gives people control of their experience,” he said, “whether they engage actively or passively on social sites.” Berlin-based Henrik Berggren, founder of Readmill, believes that social reading is “misunderstood. Reading is an immersive experience that can be shared in individual ways depending on the person.”
The role of authors in social reading continues to evolve. “For those engaged in it, there are more opportunities for sharing ideas,” Fershleiser said. “This has the potential to change the way books are written,” noted O’Donoghue. “Writing no longer has to follow a linear structure.” Said Berggren, authors learn from readers’ comments in the margins of e-books as new light is shed on their work.