Tweading in the bookstream
It’s rare that a new feature blows me away, but Amazon has just introduced something in the latest Kindle Fire update that has me reeling with the possibilities.
Like a lot of game changers (Twitter, perforated toilet paper), it’s a simple concept.
You are reading a book.
You tap the top of the screen, and then tap a little word balloon at the bottom of the screen.
You are seeing a stream of comments from other readers…and, maybe, from the author! You can add your own comment and if the book is popular enough, get a response in seconds. Of course, with the kinds of books I read sometimes, it might be hours…or days…or never.
Social interaction based on books…not TV shows, not pop music, not videogames.
While I would certainly like to see some added features, it’s brilliant in its simplicity.
For me, this is the killer social app that the Kindle has always suggested it could do.
I’ve written about it a couple of times already (here and in The Writers Guide to E-Publishing. I’m seeing some very interesting reactions.
One is authors saying that they’ll now need to buy a Kindle Fire…because they see the potential of being part of it.
Another one was somebody being sad about the concept. For that person, reading is a contemplative activity, and chatting seemed to be interrupting that “quiet zone”.
I do get that (even though it’s not the way my mind works).
However, there is no need for it to affect you, if you don’t want it to do that. You have to choose to be involved.
I’d never do it with a novel which I haven’t finished and haven’t read before. I wouldn’t want the spoilers: you aren’t commenting about a specific point in the book (although you can include a passage, if you want), but about the book generally. I’d be too worried about spoilers.
However, with a novel I have read?
I first went to The Hunger Games, figuring if anything would be live with social media, it would be.
I’ve gone back several times already, and it’s very active! I’ve seen seven posts in a single minute.
A lot of the conversation is simple social, and not even about the book. However, I’m surprised that people identifying themselves as in fourth and fifth grade are reading that book.
I’ve also seen good questions about the book, and added a couple of answers.
Similarly, there is a lot of activity in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but it is much more serious.
I’ve added my own comment to Love Your Kindle Fire…and mine is the only one so far. Not surprisingly, I may also be the first person to run into the 300 character posting limit.
While I see tremendous opportunities here, particularly with nonfiction and academic uses, I did have some questions about exactly how it worked.
For example, my comments have my name…but a lot of them said, “Unknown”. I wasn’t sure why that it is. I suspected it may be because the posters are under age, and I’m still not quite sure about that.
What I did, though, was ask Amazon some questions…and I got an answer back within a day! That’s not because I’m a blogger…it’s just how good they typically are at Customer Service, at least in my experience.
Let me give you my questions and their answers;
I think that the new sharing feature in 6.3 is a real game changer in connecting authors and readers. However, I do have some questions:
1. Are there guidelines about what can be posted? Could an author, for example, promote another book in a “twead” (that’s what I’m calling these public notes…from “tweet” and “read”)?
2. Why are some people shown with their names (as I am) and some people just shown as “unknown”?
3. Is there any connection with Amazon Friends (the old version or the Facebook version)?
4. Why are some tweads from months ago? Does this include any public notes?
5. How does this relate to being followed at kindle.amazon.com?
6. How long do the tweads stay visible in the book?
I’d love to see:
1. A way to limit the note’s visibility to a specific group of people…I could see teachers using that for a class
2. A notification of a new twead
3. An ability to search the tweads in a book
4. An ability to connect with people (if they allow it) by long-pressing on their twead…or perhaps, to follow them that way
The answer I got:
Hello, Thanks for contacting us with your inquiry. I’d love to help you and explain the situation. I see that you’ve written to us about several issues. I’ll do my best to provide a thorough answer to each of your inquiries in this message.
I checked and see that there guidelines about what can be posted using share feature on Kindle Fire.
I see that an author can promote another book in a “twead”. Amazon is pleased to provide this forum for you to share your opinions on books.
I see that the same rules for that apply for reviewing books listed below apply for sharing your thoughts using this feature. http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-reviews-guidelines
I see that some people are shown with their names if they are logged into their account and submitted their name for the shared content. Otherwise it will be listed as unknown.
I also see that the sharing feature is enhanced in Kindle Fire. It is still connected to the older version. To share your favorite passages from your Kindle books and your thoughts about them, tap and hold on a word or phrase while reading. Tap “Share.” Tap within the text field that says “Share your thoughts with the Kindle community” to enter any thoughts about the text you selected, then tap the Share button.
Your entry will be added to your Amazon Kindle profile at http://kindle.amazon.com/your_reading.
If you also check the boxes next to the Twitter or Facebook symbol, your entry can be shared through your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Follow the onscreen instructions to set up sharing features and follow your Twitter or Facebook friends on kindle.amazon.com.
I see that shared content also includes public notes and it will be listed along with the date it was created and some are older notes. Public Notes lets Kindle users choose to make their book notes and highlights available for others to see. You can review and turn on Public Notes in your own books, follow people to get their Public Notes and reading activities, as well as check out Popular Highlights, your annotations, and your full library of books at https://kindle.amazon.com
If someone you follow has highlighted a passage in a book and has turned on Public Notes for the book, you’ll see that passage highlighted along with the name of the person who highlighted it. You’ll see the “@” symbol displayed in the text where any notes were made.
You are unable to restrict who can see your Public Notes once you turn them on in a book. Public Notes is a feature that allows Kindle users choose to make their book notes and highlights available for others to see. You have to turn on Public Notes for a book through our website before anyone else can see your highlights and notes in that book. Go to https://kindle.amazon.com/your_reading to make your highlights and notes visible through Public Notes. With this feature turned on for a book, all your notes and marks for that book become public.
If you’ve any further queries or need additional information, please let us know so we can assist you further.
That doesn’t tell me everything I want to know, but it’s a big help.
Again, I realize that some of you will never dip your minds into the bookstream, and certainly may not ever “twead”.
However, if Stephen King was going to appear in a book at a given time and answer your questions, wouldn’t that intrigue you? Anne Rice? How about a scientist…or a celebrity or political figure?
This could be the new book signing, a new way to connect authors with readers.
By the way, this has also finally gotten me to start doing public notes. I’ve always wanted to provide notes for people on books I’ve read, but it was too hard to write the notes on an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle…anything but a Kindle Fire). If you’d like to follow me, or see my notes, you can do that from here:
I’ll have to edit those more…I highlight errors to send to publishers, and I don’t think you want to see those. You’ll only see public notes if I turned them on for specific books, by the way. I’ll take a look at that for the ones I’ve done in the past.
What do you think? Am I blowing this tweading thing all out of proportion? Is it just going to be taken over by recess talk? Is it just too different from your reading experience? Could you see it being used by book clubs? Is the ability to limit it to a circle essential before you will use it? Feel free to tell me what you think.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.