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Social reading should focus on common interests rather than friend status

Travis Alber on ReadSocial's unique social reading environment.

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Social reading is gaining momentum. There are quite a few startups involved in this space, and most of them simply assume your Facebook friends share the same reading interests you do. ReadSocial is different. In this TOC interview, we hear from ReadSocial co-founder Travis Alber (@screenkapture) on why they’re building their platform without tying it to your social graph.

Key points from the full video interview (below) include:

  • Adding conversations into your content — The reading experience needs to flow smoothly, but the reader should have the opportunity to dive into deeper discussions with others along the way without leaving the book environment. [Discussed at 00:39.]
  • Publishers play a role, too — Note that Travis talks about publishers as well as readers here. You can’t just have a “build it and they will come” mentality with social reading. Publishers need to take the initiative and add value by inserting comments, managing groups, etc. [Discussed at 2:00.]
  • An open source platform — Open systems are always better than closed ones, and it’s great to see that ReadSocial is an open source product. [Discussed at 3:47.]
  • Analytics built in — As publishers we want to learn more about our customers and their reading habits, what they liked in the book, what they skipped over, etc. ReadSocial provides those insights. [Discussed at 4:00.]
  • Hashtags determine what groups you’re part of — This functionality gives ReadSocial the flexibility not found in other platforms. It also allows you to be part of just one or many different groups reading the same book. The emphasis here is on common interests rather than a friend status within Facebook, for example. [Discussed at 8:37.]
  • ReadSocial offers API access as well — The entire ReadSocial platform is accessible via API’s, which could lead to all sorts of new and innovative applications. [Discussed at 17:00.]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.

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  • Felix

    I’m not sure about the potential for this in mainstream reading, but I would think that an education focus here would work well. You already have very large groups all reading the same texts at the same time (and for the same, or very similar purposes) and existing social frameworks for sharing / commenting on aspects of the text. If social reading is going to take off Education should be the low hanging fruit.