Social Reading: Platforms, Applications, Clouds and Tags

By José-Antonio Cordón-Garcia, Julío Alonso-Arévalo, Raquel Gómez-Díaz, and Daniel Linder. Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2013. 200 pp. $80.00 (paperback). ISBN 978-1-84334-726-2.

The influx of technology intertwined with reading has changed the way information is input, viewed, and applied. This book is the authors’ attempt to approach all aspects of how social media has influenced the ways we read, and, as a result, the ways we absorb information.

The authors’ support their need for analysis by stating that reading habits are being altered by the appearance of new devices and formats, an area that needs to be studied (1). They continue by stating that the process of creating a “book” ready for publication is no longer as clear as it was in the past. Social media intervention has allowed the reader to communicate with the author(s), editor(s), agent(s) and assist in the distribution of a “book.”  I agree with their need for analysis. This publication is a step in the right direction regarding a deeper look into how social media influences our culture.  They further indicate the areas they intend to address, including some of the issues in the evolutionary process from the individual to the collective (4).

In the first chapter, they start their discussion with a topic that I have had a great interest in for many years: what is the concept of books and reading? Their conclusion is that definitions of the “book” can be divided into two groups, those who consider books mainly as material objects, and those who consider them as transmitters of messages of a sociological and semiotic nature (13). I am more inclined towards this second definition of a “book,” but I do have a slight struggle with letting go of the traditional concept of “book”. This understanding explains the wall of printed books at my home, but also the thousands of Kindle books in my reading app.

The previous concept is followed by a discussion of what makes a book a true ebook. The authors’ analysis does not provide a true answer to this concept (who truly can at this liquid stage of reading development), but they do provide at least a foundational concept that can be constructed upon through later study. The remainder of the text discusses other issues such as the digital revolution in reading and the impact of cloud storage on the maintenance of reading material. In other words, you have it forever, at least in theory.

In addition to the analysis of the theories related to the concept and make-up of the book, the authors’ take a look at digital reading devices, digital reading operation systems, formats for encoding contents (a table is provided on page 81), ebook applications, digital newspaper applications, magazine applications and content syndicators. This was an interesting overview of what is available in the ebook market at the moment of publication, but as this market moves quickly, there is some question of whether or not some of the applications they discussed still exist.

Further concepts covered in this publication include: cloud models, cloud user rights (116), open access ebooks, characteristics of open access (123), self-publishing, personalization of content, social tagging, and user based indexing of documents. The concept they introduced with the social indexing triangle, also called folksonomy, is particularly interesting (226). This process freely assigns labels to information and objects in order to allow millions of users to locate them via Web 2.0 search engines. I could almost consider this a modern, electronic world version of an index.

In conclusion, this book is an excellent text to use regarding the influence on social media on the world of reading. It is a sufficient starting point to begin the analysis of what a book is and will be in the future.


Paula L. Webb

University of South Alabama