Barnes & Noble found, by tracking how readers read e-books downloaded onto its Nook, that long works of nonfiction don't get read cover to cover. In fact, some nonfiction e-books are put aside after a few pages or chapters. As a result, B&N is introducing "Nook Snaps," brief takes on nonfiction topics, intended to be read when you have a few minutes here and there. Sales of Nook books and snaps are up 119% over LY figures, as B&N continues to adapt to the evolving e-book market. In other words, B&N has leveraged its knowledge of e-book reading habits to fill a need.
Amazon has mountains of data about readers of e-books: what page you stop and start at, what phrases you underline for emphasis or to remember, any notes you enter on a page. When you bought your Kindle, you agreed that Amazon can collect this data about your e-reading habits. Here's the exact wording from the Kindle License Agreement:
The Software will also provide Amazon with information related to the Digital Content on your Kindle and Other Devices and your use of it (such as last page read and content archiving). Annotations, bookmarks, notes, highlights, or similar markings you make using your Kindle or Reading Application and other information you provide may be stored on servers that are located outside the country in which you live. Any information we receive is subject to the Amazon.com privacy notice located at www.amazon.com/privacy.Even now, it's not clear how much personally identifiable information Amazon has about you as an individual owner of Kindle and a reader of e-books, thanks to the way its Silk operating system operates.
On the plus side, Amazon is known for its excellent recommendations engine, offering you a number of ideas based on books or other products you've purchased in the past. That's a real positive because if you like one type of e-book, you're very likely to enjoy reading something else by that author or in that genre. Smart marketing, clearly.
But what about the potential negatives of so much data being collected? Under the Video Privacy Protection Act (dating back to the days before e-books, in 1988), video stores aren't allowed to hold onto your video rental info for very long, and they can't disclose it to outsiders. The California Reader Privacy Act offers some similar protections for readers of e-books. Are more protections needed for readers of e-books?