Wednesday, December 15, 2010

E-books: Are You, the Content, and Your Actual Reading being Tracked?

On the way home from work I listened to this report on NPR: Is Your E-Book Reading Up On You?

A lot of the report's content I just assumed--Like, if you purchase through a Kindle or Nook, they track the purchases you make, when, where and for how much. But it apparently goes much further than that. If and when you read the book, what pages you stopped on, how long you spent on a page or chapter, and even where you did your reading is all part of the return data stream recorded. From Google and Apple, to Amazon and B&N, they're all apparently less than forthcoming about the data collected, for how long it is saved, and its use.

Can your reading and location be used as an alibi in court, the NPR report asks?

The report also discusses how such data could be useful for authors, among other things. Stephen King even provided some input on this.

It does appear to me to be a version of 'Big Brother' looking in and tracking one's every literary move. It sounds a little intrusive to me. Unlike purchasing a book at a good ol' brick & mortar store, if you pay cash, nobody knows what you purchased...well I guess if you belong to a loyal customer program of some sort, you'd be tracked...and I suppose if they had a surveillance system and kept the tape/digital file, what you purchased would be known. But if you gifted the book or magazine, lent it out, kept all to yourself and read it--when and where included--would not be known.

A sign and direction of the digital times.


  1. Sounds like another reason to stay in the 'stone-age' with my reading format preferences. The more info others keep on people, the more chance that info can get misused, abused, spread around... No thanks.

  2. That's really creepy! I hate the thought of them tracking all that.

  3. Yes, Ostarella, it does make one far more wary and desirous to stick with the paper/ink version.

    Angie, I think it is a sign of the times. Just like google scanning emails sent to better target their google ads for the users.

    It will be interesting to see if they eventually try to sell the data to publishers.