Smart technology: Your e-books are reading you, too

e-book data

Amazon and other publishers are gathering personal information on readers through their e-books.

The synchronization features built into these programs track usage on what you read, how fast you read, and where you take notes, among other habits, according to an article on German international broadcaster DW.de. For example, these publishers know that the average reader will finish Mockingjay — the last book in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy — in seven hours on a Kobo device. That’s 57 pages every hour.

Some of this probably isn’t a surprise, though. Even users can look at the most highlighted passages in an e-book. If collecting data on users’ reading patterns is a breach of confidentiality, then what about the ability to check the most popular quotes and see what other people have underlined?

“We just know that it’s being done,” said Thilo Weichert, the data protection commissioner for the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. “And we also know what the potential for it is. It’s certain that the U.S. does it because their data protection laws do not prevent it.”

With this kind of information, e-book providers can cue publishers and authors in to more potential buyers based on those readers’ interests. Is this distrustful or just another way of marketing smarter?

2 thoughts on “Smart technology: Your e-books are reading you, too

  1. I think it’s a bit of both – a bit distrustful and another way of marketing smarter. I hope Amazon gets it, then, that I’ve given up on the last 8 books I’ve tried and starts recommending something I’d like! :)

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