The Wall Street Journal published an excellent article today informing us that the e-reader Terms & Conditions we've agreed to - yet never read - gives Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple the right to track and disclose what books we buy, read, how fast we read them, the sections we highlight, the notes we make, and at what page we decide to stop reading.
In general, this is great. Let the publishers have anonymous information about what we readers like. Oh wait. It's not anonymous. California had to pass the Reader Privacy Act to require that law enforcement obtain a court order before demanding digital booksellers turn over the information. (This means the bookseller could hand it over voluntarily unless there's an agreement with the reader to do otherwise. Anyone know if such an agreement exists? I sure don't.) I'm not so sure I care if the police want to track if my neighbor is downloading "How to Keep My Meth Lab Hidden", but I certainly take issue if that in-the-closet gay guy will no longer download his male/male romance novels because he's scared Amazon will out him. Or if a certain heterosexual male wants to read his military romances in private, yet now realizes some psycho daisy at Apple might publicize his name. (i.e., The Romance Man)
I'm aware everything online is tracked anyway. I love Google (it hosts this blog) and Google tracks everything. I'm surprised Google People haven't knocked on my door and offered up twelve hot, sexy men wearing 1700s garb and holding baby diapers because they know I have an interest in it. But Google lets me opt out (sort of). Does Amazon? Not according to Cindy Cohn.
The most important question: Other than publishers, who else gets this information and what do you do with it? Of course there's no answer to that.
Is this too much? More importantly, will this make us stop reading the e-books we want? What will this do to romance book sales especially the electronic-only books??
Personally? I'll keep reading. It's just romance novels.
Please share your thoughts!