I got a Kindle for Christmas and I’ve ready quite a few books on it since. I also have the Kindle app for my iPhone and it’s handy that they allow me to sync my place between the two, so I can read on my iPhone when it’s dark and on my Kindle most of the time.
But this feature has it’s limitations. It all comes down to the concept of “Sync to the Furthest Page Read.” In 98% of the cases, this has worked exactly as I would have hoped. The furthest page I’ve read to is the last page I read to, but it hasn’t worked in all cases.
I was reading a book where I was following the hyperlinked footnote notations to the endnotes at the end of the book. Well, even when I followed the link in the endnote back to the page where I was reading, the next time my devices tried to sync, the “furthest” page was that page at the end with the endnote. So I was unable to pick up on my iPhone where I left off on my Kindle.
I’ve emailed them that they should explore this concept, but what should someone do? Have we really figured out the whole ebook referencing abilities? There’s no more page numbers, but rather indications of how far in terms of percentages you are through the book. Or should I say the file. There’s a lot of stuff tacked on to the ends of some ebooks and they are lumped into that percentage. I finished all of the real material in one book at was just at about 78% completed.
There should also be some way to indicate in the Kindle (or any ebook) when you’ve “finished” it. Kindle doesn’t have any way of knowing what books have been read or which have not. It goes along with other sorting problems that leaves you will a long list of books that gives you little information to go on…
How about a website that lays an interface over the avalanche of books that allows people to create playlists of books and articles for people looking for exposure to a particular topic.
While that alone would be useful (to me), how about taking it a step further. Why not expose Pandora-like functionality where I enter a book I read/liked/was told to read and it would show me similar books. This list might be used for additional readings or perhaps readings which would be more appropriate.
How would that work? Well, say you’ve just read a Malcom Gladwell book and you want to read more on the subject, it might recommend you read Gut Feelings by Gerd Gigerenzer whom Gladwell drew from.
Or vice versa, suppose someone recommends you read about motivation and drive – they just read Drive by Daniel H. Pink, but it seems a little too difficult for reading on the beach (or bus), wouldn’t it be nice to know that reading Linchpin by Seth Godin might give you some of the same takeaways?
Or I guess in my case, when I have a stack of unread books on my nightstand and a megabyte (what’s the equivalent new term?) of ebooks on my Kindle, how do I know which to read next? I might not want to read two books that are very similar back to back, or I might want to read something lighter after plowing through a scientific treatise.
Who’s going to build it?
I’m in the middle of a year at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and for each course we get a very extensive course reader full of articles, cases and other stuff. This is in addition to or in place of a textbook.
Now, I might be an exception, but in how I learn and what I look to get out of a class, the bulk comes straight from reading everything in the course reader. While there are many classes I would not want to enroll in and sit through, there are many courses I would like to borrow/buy the course readers for.
But why be limited to classes here at the GSB or even Stanford, what if it was possible to get the course readers for any class in the world? That would be much more valuable to me than MIT putting all their classes online.
But why be limited to existing courses by existing “teachers”? Why couldn’t this be a new framework/structure for anyone to capture and advocate something people would want to learn. Build a course reader full of bits of your writings and those of others that lead people through a series of points you feel are valuable.
Just a thought.
How about a book filled with acceptance speeches for all occasions? It could be entitled “Be Prepared” (or something similar) and could give you either the beginning spark for a speech of your own or the whole thing verbatim.
It could include speeches for when you win:
- President of the United States of America
- President of some lesser country (of your choice)
- Nobel Prize (Peace or other one)
- Smaller Prizes (Elk’s Club, PTA, “Best Dad”)
I did some preliminary research, here’s a text file with some awards I found:
Why not make a collection of poetry that’s haphazardly created in modern spam email as the authors try to circumvent filters. It can be quite interesting. Like the cut-ups that Burroughs did.
From an actual piece of spam received August 30, 2005 by “Al Zamora”:
“Eskimos will marry the pediatricians. Disney characters sabotage the
directories of hard rock geologists. Square dancers compose lovely
sonnets about karate instructors. Rodents sicken technicians. Campers,
blenders and troglodytes all claim that screen dumpers hate to be mistaken
for aeronautical engineers. Buildings sabotage the directories of Disney
characters! Geophysicists surprise unwed mothers. The Texaco managers
insist that the electricians dance with reptiles.”
November 9, 2007 Update – Found someone who’s doing illustrations of SPAM subject lines. See it here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/linzie/sets/72157602417089145/detail/