Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ten Ways to Bring Books Into Your Digital Life

Just because books are a legacy knowledge format doesn't mean you shouldn't make good use of them. The digital realm is reviving and repurposing books (just as those classical books from antiquity got a brand new life during the Renaissance when put into print). Books are more important than ever!

So, if you want to be taken seriously on your blog, show that you are good friends with books, that you read then, think about them, share them, and respond to them. It's so easy to do nowadays! Here are ten ways to bring books more powerfully into your digital life:

1. Review Books

Brandon reviewed this book about Leonardo da Vinci. He got some good comments and ended up extending his discussion of the book to a second post. Also check out Daniel Zappala's review of The Mythical Man Month, or Maggie's review of a helpful book series on history. Dalton Haslam took a topic and then brought in reviews of two books to illustrate his point. Nice approach.

2. Socialize Your Books
One of the best kinds of social discovery methods is through networks based on books: people filter books and books filter people. I talked about this a lot on a previous post (See item #7 here). Morgan Wills has joined Shelfari; Mike Lemon has joined Goodreads. How do we know? Because both have used blog widgets from these services to post virtual bookshelves to their blogs. Now we know a lot about them by the books they choose to put on those shelves. You can do that, too!

3. Build a Google Library

If you have a Google account, you can create a library of any books Google has digitized. In fact, if you are logged in and then do any search on, there is an option to save that book to your online Google library. This is great for research purposes. Here is a shelf I set up in my Google books just for this course. Google books has many of the same reviewing and sharing functions that a service like Goodreads or Shelfari has. You can also quickly find reviews, or write reviews, of these books.

4. Use Amazon Wish Lists
Amazon is great for more than just buying. It has an amazing recommendation system and can be a sweet way to find current books on a topic (see item #8 in my prior post). If you are logged in, Amazon will recommend books to you based on what you've browsed (or bought) or put into a wish list. Here is screenshot of one of my book lists from Amazon, one I titled "Digital Culture & New Media."

5. Micro-Broadcast Your Reading
Tell the world what you are reading, while you are reading it. If you are on Twitter, then tweet what you are reading as you go (and if you like, pipe your tweet stream into the side of your blog).  On Goodreads you can update people about what page of a book you are on. Of course on Facebook you can update people about what you are reading. Scribd, a service for posting and sharing texts and other media, has a special "readcast" feature by which you can tell your networks about your reading feed. Why would you do this? So you can connect with other people reading what you are, that's why!

6. Embed a Book Reader in Your Blog
You can even embed book readers into your blog (first example is from Google; second, from Amazon's Kindle reader).

7. Discover E-books
E-books can give you a very different reading experience. You don't have to own a Kindle to use a Kindle reader on your computer or smart phone. And, of course, there are many other ebook readers -- all of which can access loads of free ebooks (such as those from Project Gutenberg) and most of which have free online readers for PCs or Macs. Why read books electronically and give up that sweet smell of tree pulp? Access -- on the go (mobility); searching and bookmarking; and social access (a very exciting prospect for the future of books). Here's a screen shot of the Kindle app on my wife's iPhone -- her library of books, and then a shot of a page from the book she was reading (Cutting for Stone). Note how the Kindle software informed her that the passage that she underlined as being really cool was also underlined by hundreds of others. How awesome is that! Tell your blog readers about your ebook reading experiences and invite them to read along with you.

8. Listen to Audiobooks
I love audiobooks! I read so much more by listening as I exercise or commute. I'm a subscriber to Audible, but you don't have to pay to listen to loads of books. Try out LibriVox -- you can download narrated books in the public domain, or even become a narrator yourself and contribute to the supply of online audiobooks for others to enjoy. And of course, iTunes has a lot of free books (and other audio content) through its podcasts and through iTunesU. Invite your blog readers to enjoy the audio books that you listen to.

9. Write a Book
Use your blog to draft a book -- share sections or chapters (see the example image from my wife's novel), or post a prospective table of contents. What? insecure? Get feedback from your blog followers and build buzz that will help you feel obligated to finish your book. Self publishing is easy; it's the getting-the-writing-done that's hard. Your blog community can help you do it!

10. Remix a Book
Find a book in the public domain, or one that has been published with a Creative Commons license (which encourages re-use of content -- hooray!), and then do your own version of it. This is nothing short of revolutionary, and something I will talk more about later. But I wanted to whet your appetite for this. And check this out! Kevin Kelley celebrates someone else's remix of one of his Creative Commons-licensed books. That's what I call intellectual humility. Click on the photo to read about it on his blog. Now, who wants to remix Eric Raymond's The Cathedral and the Bazaar?


Mike Lemon said...

In addition for 7, a blog recommended, which is an eBook search engine. You can search and review eBooks, as well as find where to purchase them. It's another source outside of Amazon and Google.

jakydigiciv said...

I want to learn more about remixing. I think I'm going to Google it right after I write this post. The concept seems so bizarre to me, and yet so brilliant... (I wonder if it has anything to do with things along the lines of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I have not read and probably won't but the concept is hilarious.)

Jeffrey Whitlock said...

I would love to start using Goodreads or Shelfari. Which would you recommend and why?

meggster said...

Again, I need to express my appreciation for this post because it has changed my book-reading life! Yay lists! Thank you so much for this thoroughly awesome blog!

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