Excerpt from a compelling e-marginalia/social reading vision and market snapshot
Last month, Amazon announced what could be a landmark in electronic marginalia: public note sharing for the Kindle — Coleridgean fantasy software that will make your friends’ notes appear (if you want them to) directly on your own books. This is exciting but still a few leaps away from my ultimate fantasy of e-marginalia: the ability to import not just your friends’ notes but notes from all of history’s most interesting book markers. Imagine reading, say, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and touching a virtual button so that — ping! — Ernest Hemingway’s marginalia instantly appears, or Ralph Ellison’s, or Mary McCarthy’s. Or imagine you’re reading a particularly thorny passage of “Paradise Lost” and suddenly — zwang! — up pops marginalia from a few centuries of poets (Blake, Coleridge, Keats, Emerson, Eliot, Pound), with their actual handwriting superimposed on the text in front of you. (If someone’s handwriting gave you trouble, you’d be able to toggle between script and print.) You could even “subscribe” to your favorite critic’s marginalia — get, say, one thoroughly marked-up digital book every month. Or, if you preferred to keep it contemporary, you could just read along with your friends in an endless virtual book club — their notes and your notes would show up on one another’s e-readers the moment they were made.