Posted by: Burlington Public Library (WA) | July 19, 2012

Privacy and reading

Privacy is a hot topic these days.  There’s much ado and furor, but not a lot of clarity.  And now, even what you read is being tracked!

Your e-Book is Reading You details how the Amazon, Nook, Kobo and other e-readers are reaping huge amounts of data from their customers.  It’s starting to ask a question publishers and authors have long hypothesized about:  what do readers want?

Now these companies are able to tell who is reading what, and how fast they read it.  They can tell if you’ve finished the book, or dropped it.  If you highlight, annotate, make notes, or bookmark,’ they can even tell what quotes you wanted to remember or what pages caught your attention.

Some of these numbers are fun.  Average speed of reading George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons?  About 50 pages an hour.   But there is a concern that learning the exact tastes and habits of e-readers will start to impact what writers write and publishers publish.

Not to brag or anything, but contrast this controversial data collecting with libraries.  Once you’ve turned in a book, we don’t keep records on what you’ve checked out.  This protects your privacy against anyone who comes to the library wanting that data.  Some people want us to keep those records — “I don’t remember if I read that or not!” — and that’s actually a feature we intend to incorporate in the future.  But we want that to be your decision, not ours.

What do you think?  Do you want your consumer habits to be private, and if so, why do you care?

P.S.  Same thing with Netflix!  Click here to read what’s happening there.

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