The advent of eBooks offers readers new possibilities for interaction, sharing and exchange of ideas: it’s called “social reading”. The mechanism is quite simple, thanks to platforms such as Thecopia 3, Findings 4, Readmill 5, etc. or even through Amazon’s Kindle, it’s possible to share with other readers our thoughts, notes and comments.

The system, with the consent of the reader, tracks how and what is read, what comments are made and if the reader likes the book or not. Data is stored online and then processed in order to highlight interesting annotations made by others, recommend similar books to those just read and appreciated, connect readers to each other.

But let’s be frank: is it worth losing our privacy and having our reading habits scrutinised in exchange for a personalised recommendation service? And do they ever recommend items that you would be interested in reading anyway?  

A fascinating blog post I read recently raised many interesting questions about lending eBooks. It explains the challenges users face due to licensing restrictions. Apparently many eBooks can’t be lent – well some of them can -but it is possible to share them only once and after that, no more lending.

Lending is entirely up to the publishers, and the publishers, despite charging real book prices aren’t providing real book benefits, such as the ability to send the book to whomever you want, much less resell the book.

So can we still talk about “social reading” if we are not allowed to share books with other readers as we used to do?

“Can eBooks Meet Changing Social Demand”? Maybe the right question is “are they trying to shape the Social Demand”?