Today in books and publishing: Your e-book is watching you; a book written with disappearing ink; Jezebel's new book club; library jail; Colin Powell reads on planes.
If books could talk: Your creepy-but-cool book article of the day is "Your E-Book Is Reading You," by Alexandra Alter. How so? "In the past, publishers and authors had no way of knowing what happens when a reader sits down with a book," writes Alter. "Does the reader quit after three pages, or finish it in a single sitting? Do most readers skip over the introduction, or read it closely, underlining passages and scrawling notes in the margins?" With e-books, things are different. E-readers have revealed that it takes an average reader seven hours to read the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy, that most people download the next book after finishing the first, and that "Nearly 18,000 Kindle readers have highlighted the same line from the second book in the series: 'Because sometimes things happen to people and they're not equipped to deal with them.'"
The great beauty of e-books means that all this stuff is suddenly trackable—how much time people spend reading, how people engage with their books. Which means, finally, there might be a way to measure consumer tastes and habits like there is in most of the rest of the world of entertainment—and the publishing industry has a lot more information available to help them create more books that people want to read. On the down side, are books better, really, just because writers and publishers know more about what readers like? All good fodder for debate, but mostly, I'm glad e-books have helped us determine the perfect romantic hero: he "has a European accent and is in his 30s with black hair and green eyes." [Wall Street Journal]
A book in disappearing ink? This gimmick from Argentinean publisher Eterna Cadencia hopes to address the problem of a book left to languish on shelves, unread. Their anthology of new Latin authors, titled El Libro que No Puede Esperar, or The Book That Can't Wait, is made with ink that disappears upon contact with sun and air, disappearing completely within 2 months after the book has been opened. It does introduce some urgency (and the books sold out), but is probably not ideal for those who like to re-read. [Los Angeles Times]
Jezebel launches a book club. Katie J.M. Baker, writer at the site, tells us, "We've noticed that when we write about books, there tends to be pretty good discussion in the comments -- and we've received more than a few requests for us to start something like this. Summer reading season seemed like a perfect time to give it a try." Voting is still open on the book that the club will read, which will ultimately be discussed via Gawker's new commenting system. [Jezebel]
Will e-books phase out the book vending machine? Signs point to yes. [Patch]
Twilight jail. A woman spent the night in prison for not returning Twilight and two New Moon DVDs to the local library. She'd had them out since 2010, which has to be some kind of record. [CBS]
Colin Powell: Plane reader. "I used to read in bed, until I started to fall asleep after two minutes of reading anything." Also, he would like to meet J.K. Rowling. Get in line, Powell. [New York Times]