social readingI’ve been seeing lots of articles about social reading and how it’s the wave of the future for e-book discovery. CBC News had a lengthy article on the topic, and Digital Book World weighed in on it yesterday. (Incidentally, enough with the Fifty Shades references, OK guys?)

While social discovery makes for fascinating news articles, and sites like Goodreads are certainly in that space, I decided to go to the source—readers—and ask them for their opinion. You know what will make self-described introverts put down their books and speak up? Asking them for their opinions on social reading!

Here were a selection of opinions I received:

becca:social reading

I’m not a social reader. I’m an anti-social reader. I belong to a small (6 people) book club that reads one book per month together, and that’s enough social reading for me. Beyond that, I don’t particularly care what other people are reading.

It may be because I’m an introvert, but I just don’t get this whole thing about “social reading” – is it supposed to make reading appeal more to extroverts?

(I love becca, by the way. She responds every time I toss a question out on KindleKorner.)

Crescent doesn’t mind sharing what she’s reading with friends, she’s got her limits:

I would never want complete strangers knowing what I’m reading, etc. I don’t mind finding people online through groups and discussing particular books or subjects, but it’s not anywhere near as invasive as sharing my highlights and notes from a book. I wouldn’t even want my family having all that information despite the fact that we no doubt read many of the same books.

Sara feels the same way:

Personally I don’t ever share that I finished a book or what I am  reading. I used to share quotes now and then but I don’t even do that  anymore … anything that wants me to share to Facebook or Twitter or  anywhere else I keep disabled. I keep my own list of what books I have read, and they’re for my reference and sense of satisfaction only.

It tees me off no end that even Angry Birds on my iOS devices makes me use Game Center or I can’t play. If I wanted to be social, I’d be social.

Lisa is more on the social side, so not everyone’s against it:

Although I prefer reading alone … I do think the integration of literature and social media is the wave of the future. I also think we’ll see more crossovers between literature and other media (kind of like how video games have “cut scenes”).

…as an author, I get a real kick when I go through a Kindle copy of one of my books and find numerous people have highlighted the same passage.

(Good point, and of course I immediately checked my books. No one’s highlighting in mine.)

Donna was very blunt:

I love technology and its wonders, but not the sharing part. That’s just icky in my opinion.

Celeste is another self-described introvert:

While I don’t enjoy someone reading over my shoulder and knowing exactly what I’m reading, it isn’t one of those things I would get fussed about. I don’t do Goodreads or any of those type of tracking sites, but I know a lot of people who do … I read for pleasure, not to count how many books I’ve read.

I would honestly love to be in a book group. It would be nice to meet monthly with friends and share tea while discussing a book we read that month. I’m an introvert, but I love books and reading and I would enjoy sharing that with others.

Book group wins. Social sharing? Not so much.

Katie, however, has a definite opinion in favor of sharing:

I strongly disagree. Discussing what I am reading, during and after reading, increases my enjoyment. I enjoy escaping into the fantasy landscape and talking about what ifs while reading and then discussing the emotions raised while reading after I finish. I seem to invest more in books that I have discussed and remember them longer.

And Pickett likes seeing other people’s highlights:

Guess I am an exception:  I like to see what others have highlighted, even if just to wonder why so many highlighted this. When I am highlighting the same thing as others, it makes me feel part of a community.

While some readers are obviously in favor of social reading, by far the majority who responded were not. What about you? Here’s your chance, social readers. Tell us why we need to be more social!


  1. For me I share what I am reading because working in a library for so many years I get asked all the time “what are you reading? Can you recommend a good book?” etc.

    I can’t very well tell someone “no go away you creep, why do you want to know what I am reading?” 🙂

    I do highlight passages and share as I read through Kindle, share to Twitter and post my lists to Goodreads so that friends and strangers can see what I like. I find it interesting sometimes to see what other people have highlighted as I am reading.

    I can understand why someone would not want others interrupting their reading with a pop up question about “What do you think about what just happened to Hermione?” and I would most likely hit the “shut up” button unless it was a close friend who was doing a read a-long with me.

    I do with that X ray was more readily enabled on more Kindle books. I think that given that sort of deeper connection from book to book might encourage others to share their own particular connections they see with other readers.

  2. It depends on what you mean by social reading. I love having impassioned debates about books I love and hate. I love participating on boards or talking to friends (or even complete strangers in a bookstore if the topic comes up) to offer recommendations or get their opinions on books I haven’t read.

    I’m not a book group person.

    And I hate the idea of sharing notes and highlights online — I like books because they are so immersive, you get dragged into this imaginary world. I don’t want to be involved in anything that takes me out of the experience.

  3. @Bill, that’s the same reason I turn off highlights. Everything you are doing “socially” is what people have been doing for centuries. I think the whole “find a new social reading platform” is a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist.

  4. I enjoy discussing books I’ve been reading, but on my terms. Goodreads is about as social as I get (I write a review for every book I read, and have for the last couple of years).

    But having people digitally looking over my shoulder as I read? No thanks. I’ll decide what and how much I want to share.

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