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You'll never read alone

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At least, not if you don't want to. BookGlutton.com is a website designed to turn reading into a communal activity. It employs a technology that allows booklovers to "chat" with one another even as they read.

An NPR profile last week explained that BookGlutton was created by Travis Alber, a booklover who wanted to continue book chats with friends who had moved away. The website allows readers to write comments in the margins of books as they read and to respond to one another.

At this point the site is small, with only about 1,500 public domain books and 120,000 readers a month. But NPR references NYU professor Jessamyn Hatcher, who asked her class to use BookGlutton to read "King Lear." Hatcher said using the site and sharing comments and thoughts while reading, "allowed our conversations to be deeper and richer than they would have been otherwise."

Leah Price, a professor of English at Harvard University, told NPR that "this is the beginning of a change in how we read books."

It may not, however, work for all readers or all reading experiences. NPR also quotes a student from Hatcher's class who enjoyed using BookGlutton while reading "King Lear" yet retained a few reservations. "When I'm reading [a book] I'm kind of hyperfocused," she says, "and I don't know if [reading online] would be the same."

She added that she likes, "the quiet dialogue between the words on the page and her imagination."


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