subtextReading is a deeply solitary, immersive activity. We bury ourselves in books for hours at a time, and if you’re like me you can be decidedly grumpy if someone comes up to try to have a conversation with you while you’re reading.

So, naturally, the biggest thing e-books need right now is something to make them more social. Because despite engaging in a solitary, immersive activity, e-book readers secretly just want to have conversations with everyone about what they’re reading.

At least, that’s what the people behind Subtext seem to think. TechCrunch is reporting that this startup has raised $3 million from a number of venture capital sources including Google Ventures which it plans to use in a bid to bring a more social reading experience to the iPad.

I suppose that I shouldn’t be quite so cynical; from the description in the TechCrunch article, it appears Subtext wants to offer access to extended information on books without adding distractions—making it easier to find out more if you want to without having to go to the trouble of googling and searching Wikipedia yourself, and making it easier to discuss what you’re reading with friends if you want to. And much as I don’t like being interrupted while reading, I’ll admit I don’t mind discussing books with friends after reading them.

Still, whenever I see someone talking about making books “more social,” I think, “Oh sure. Then let’s make water more dry, and why don’t we warm up those ski slopes so people don’t have to wear jackets anymore?”


  1. It does seem like a non-sequitor to make books “more social.” But I find myself being reminded of the pop-up trivia bits that appear in some movie presentations on TV, and realizing that where I might find them annoying (generally I DO), other people like them. Things are changing, and ours is not to reason why; ours is but to do or opt-out!

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