“Why can’t I subscribe to an author?” asks O’Reilly’s Joe Wikert in a post on his personal Kindleville blog last week. He points out that while you can gather all the RSS feeds, Google alerts, and hashtag searches you like, it’s not the most efficient way to follow a specific writer’s work.
Here at Teleread we’ve highlighted a couple of websites that offer a related service. Book Buzzes watches Amazon and alerts you when an author has a new book coming out, while BookWatch is an iOS app that performs a similar service for iBooks. But those are linked to single bookstores and don’t watch for articles, posts and tweets.
Wikert thinks Amazon should just roll out a Kindle product that addresses this need:
Why not just have an author feed subscription via the Kindle? Yes, Amazon sells blog feed subscriptions, but that’s a ripoff and I’m looking for more. I don’t want something I can get via an RSS reader for free. I want a combined feed of the author’s blog, their Twitter activity and any publication/website they write for. All in one. I’d be willing to pay a modest amount for this ($10/year?), at least for the 4 or 5 authors I care most about. And heck, go ahead and include some advertisements in it if necessary.
The easy solution, if you’re an author and you want to do this, is to do it yourself by setting up a catch-all blog that you maintain. But of course the more interesting problem is figuring out a way to create this service for every author, not just the ones good at self-promotion and social networking.
Could a service like Google’s authorship markup help provide the basis for a more automated and scalable solution? The Google approach currently isn’t much help here at solving Wikert’s problem, because all authorship roads lead back to a Google Profile page, and a typical Google Profile is frequently cluttered with third-party content the person finds interesting. But I think it points to a possible solution.