BookGlutton, a site launched in January 2008 to allow socially-enhanced online book reading, has just launched a nifty little widget. Now, blog and website owners can embed what amounts to a book club just about anywhere.
I tried it out on my own
blog website (note to WordPress.com: please make it easier/possible for users to embed script widgets, kthx), and it's pretty tight. Once the user clicks the widget, they can read the book page by page, skip around chapters, chat about it with other cross-platform readers in a slide-out on the left, make comments (public or private) on specific passages in a slide-out on the right, and (for veteran BookGlutton users) even choose from a drop-down menu of groups for further reading.
The demo video highlights these features in detail:
Anyone who chooses to read the virtual book from the widget will have to complete and submit a four-field membership form, but it's a one-click process that then redirects the user straight to the book. Another downer is that the widget does take over the screen. Once you commit to reading the book, you're done browsing in that window until you close the widget. Nevertheless, it's a fun and interesting tool, and the negative side effects are negligible.
The implications of social online book-reading are many-fold, for example, virtual book clubs and organizational uses. However, the benefit of the widget is that of exposure. For every book embedded on a blog, publishers get a wider audience and more marketing /sales opportunities as more people are exposed to their BookGlutton'd books, and users are exposed to something a bit more substantial than a 250-word scannable masterpiece like this one.