Amazon announced the second generation Kindle Paperwhite this week, and in the midst of the announcement came a new feature exclusive to the new Paperwhite model: Goodreads sharing integration.
Amazon’s Kindle has featured Facebook and Twitter integration since 2010, allowing readers to share notes and highlights from books. Earlier this year, Amazon bought social media site Goodreads and promised new Kindle social reading integration.
The new features will show up on the new Kindle Paperwhite “in a few months,” according to the Goodreads official announcement. The announcement says the integration comes on the new Kindle Paperwhite, not the 2012 model.
The Goodreads integration looks like it’s more robust than previous Twitter and Facebook integration, according to this post in ZDNet, which includes official screenshots of Goodreads on the Paperwhite and information about how it will operate:
Amazon has integrated Goodreads as a top menu choice next to home and the shopping cart with a simple G. In other words, you can go from friend recommendation to review to purchase in a few seconds.
“We look at Goodreads as a customer experience problem to solve. People love Goodreads, but today it’s in two different places,” said Larsen. Goodreads continues to run independently like Zappos, but the integration makes reading much more social. Larsen didn’t have the overlap between Kindle readers and Goodreads, but it’s far from 1:1.
Readers can control and share sections of books directly to Goodreads from a book, or from a separate screen, it seems.
I’ve enjoyed social sharing for a while, but I’ve always found Amazon’s offerings underwhelming. Their current attempts at book social networking, kindle.amazon.com, has very little engagement, and it seems Amazon has abandoned the platform after the Goodreads purchase.
Goodreads is a far better social reading site, but it isn’t integrated with e-readers and tablets, except as a separate app. Hopefully, this new Paperwhite integration allows people interested in social reading to share and interact within the book instead of on a separate platform.
Even with this new update, is social reading via e-readers and tablets really something most consumers want? Porter Anderson weighed in on this issue in his “Writing on the Ether” column at JaneFriedman.com: “Is Social Reading the End of an Intimacy?” His column covers most of the pros and cons of social reading, and in the midst of his discussion, Anderson makes this excellent point:
Now that we’re watching TV with three and four screens at once (and missing everything but the commercials); now that music is a mere soundtrack for everything else we’re doing; now that even in a cinema everybody’s tweeting their brains out to each other during the film (no one who reads the Ether would do this, of course). When do we still get together, mind-to-mind and share the dark, “quiet book” secrets of one (author’s) consciousness delivering its wonders directly into another (the reader’s)? When we read. Alone.
Perhaps this is why social reading hasn’t taken off in the ways I’ve written about in the past. Maybe solitary reading, with discussion after the fact — not in the midst of the act of reading — is a better way to interact with books.
Even as I write more about the idea of social reading, I realize there are many times when I need to disconnect and stay away from technology. Even if I’m reading a book on a Kindle, I want this low-fi, solitary reading time. This isn’t the case for everything I read, but a lot of the time, I want to be left alone.
This is why I enjoy Goodreads: it’s separate from all of my other social media. I go to the site for one thing: to keep track of my reading experiences.
But Goodreads is also for sharing those experiences with a community of like-minded readers. The Kindle integration will need deep integration, not just the ability to share updates on occasion. Users need granular control of its sharing capabilities. For example, I might want to share my reading progress, but not my notes. Or, I might want to share specific highlights but not every single one. As a Goodreads user, I want those control over those functions.
We’ll see how Amazon and Goodreads pull this off. For now, I’m sticking with my first generation Kindle Paperwhite, which I use every day.
Here are some other interesting articles I found around the internet this week: