Are E-Books and Accidental Discovery Mutually Exclusive?

I read this quote today on Jeff O’Neal’s blog Critical Linking:

Accidental Discovery

There’s an aspect to traditional books which is lost in even the best electronic reader, which is Accidental Discovery: I’m reading this or that, and leave it laying about the house, and you visit and see it, or you’re perusing my book-shelves to see what i’m up to, and find something which interests you. I’m a technologist, and i worry that this casual, accidental, and as you mention, social means of discovering by talking about books is threatened by devices which need to be explicitly searched in order to find out what they hold.”

How do you discover new books? #amreading #ebooks #bookworm Share on X

This got me thinking about how I discover books, and I realize there is some truth in this statement. I had company last weekend; the woman was reading a print copy of Gone Girl, so of course we began discussing it, and she offered to leave it for me when she finished. Our conversation led to a discussion about various authors and written dialogue;  when she said she’d never read anything by Jodi Picoult, I encouraged her to help herself to one of several books by Picoult that I have on my bookshelf.

So here are two cases of accidental discovery: we both now have the opportunity to read books we might not have “discovered” on our own.

The question is, would we have discovered these books if they had only been on our e-readers, cell phones, or tablets? I have to agree with the opening quote, that explicitly searching for something on an electronic device is a very different activity. Personally, I often ask people what they are reading on their Nooks, Kindles, or other e-readers, but I’ve never followed up with “What else do you have on your reader?”

What about you? I’d love to know how you discover books in this electronic age. And if you are an e-book reader, have you ever been queried about the books you have on it?

Happy Reading!


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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