Friday, 17 December 2010


But then, just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me....... and I have just seen this on the NPR website about E-Readers having an antenna that not only allows the convenience of downloading new books from anywhere, but it is also possible - although it didn't say this happens yet - for the device to transmit information back to the makers.

Clicking to turn the page indicates how fast you are reading, that you stopped reading on certain pages, how many pages are read at a sitting, whether or not you go back to re-read a passage on a previous page, or if you skip to the end to find out what happened.

Cindy Cohn, legal director at Electronic Frontier Foundation, says this kind of page-view tracking may seem innocuous, but if the company keeps the data long-term, the information could be subpoenaed to check someone's alibi, or as evidence in a lawsuit. Apparently, they may also be able to monitor where the pages are read and the devices themselves can be tracked throughout the world as Kindles, iPads etc use GPS or data from Wi-Fi and cell phone towers.

So what kind of data is your e-reader sending? Like: How long do the companies store page-view data? NPR asked this and other questions of Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Sony, all of whom declined to respond, but Google and Apple's responses make for interesting reading and are here

Amazon now dominate the e-book market, thanks to Kindle e-readers, and the publishing industry believes they have built a vast database about the reading public form hand-held devices, i.e. zip codes, gender, reader age and other reader interests.

If publishers used information, such as the fact you stopped reading a book on page 72 to, say, produce more engaging stories, is this something from which readers and authors could benefit?  Or are we toadying to the short-attention-span-keep-it-fast-paced-with-none-of-that-lengthy-introspection-stuff- reading public?

To finish with a quote from Stephen King - "Ultimately, this sort of thing scares the hell out of me, but it is the way that things are."


Talli Roland said...

Wow! I never even considered that my device could be sending data back. Eep!

Tara said...

I don't like the idea. I also fail to see how it would help publishers.. because.. we may not stop on a page because it's boring, but because we got to go to the bathroom or something. Hm.. On the other hand, if I'm ever accused of murder, the alibi thing would be nice. LOL

Anesthezea said...

I read the same article. Creepy to think about, isn't it?

I had a Kindle 3 for about a month and in that month I had to call Customer Service a few times. They knew what I had on my device, what page I was on, and could access my books directly from my device. From what I understand, they can even tell what I have on my reader, even if it's not something bought from Amazon.

That's not why I switched back to Sony, but I'm extra glad I did now. :)

Jen Black said...

Makes you think, doesn't it? But I have a suspicion that once the novelty of being able to do it has worn off, the sheer numbers (number of books published x number of readers reading) will eventually bring the whole thing to a halt. And since you've not done anything wrong, why worry?

Anne Whitfield - author said...

I'm getting a Kindle after Christmas and can't wait. If they want to check my data I say go for it, they'll be bored stupid within minutes. LOL