Amazon Listens

When you read on Kindle, Amazon knows not only what books you like, but your favorite parts of those books, reports Kari Paul at The Guardian. This is not surprising, I suppose, and the extent to which it’s alarming depends greatly on your sense of privacy.

Your librarian for favorite bookseller (remember those) might know the same, though you’d have to tell them, rather than have them peeking over your shoulder as you read.

Amazon could really have helped out The Nothing in The Neverending Story or really screwed up The Princess Bride with all of its snooping.

I’ve had a couple of weird experiences with Goodreads. In one instance, I saw somebody reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara on the subway. As I was unfamiliar with the book but intrigued by the cover, I Googled the book.

The next time I opened Goodreads (an Amazon property), it recommended A Little Life to me. Couple of observations: it’s a little presumptuous for Goodreads to assume I’d want to read a book just because I looked it up. What if I’d Googled something bad like A Separate Peace? Second, had my fellow subway rider been reading on a Kindle, I would not have been able to become curious about what they were reading, but Amazon would know.

Another incident: I went to a meeting and left my phone on the table. The person I was meeting with said I would like Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin. I never looked up the book. My phone heard the recommendation and guess what Goodreads pushed on me the next time I opened the app?

To think, reading used to be a mostly private activity. I’d love a little more human interaction around it and a lot less electronic monitoring.

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