The increasingly social nature of the internet has begun to invade all aspects of life for many users of the internet, whether it’s watching TV shows communaly via Get Glue or Hulu, rating sporting events interactively while they’re going on, or forwarding and commenting news articles.
Now that invasion has gone a step forward, thanks to a company by the name of Subtext (link to the app in the iTunes store—US only presently) and check out the previews of thebooks they currently provide Subtext social features for… including A Game of Thrones, of course!
Back in August, Random House got me in touch with the good people at Subtext. The purpose? To be one of three “experts” to provide commentary on the first novel in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. I was only too glad to help (not least because I finally had a reason to get a tablet!), to say the least. Joining me in the task of providing some useful marginalia were the lead editor of the series in the U.S., Anne Groell, and the prolifically insightful Sean T. Collins (see his post about the project), and over the course of a month or so we got to work writing notes… and more notes ... and yet more notes….
How many? Well, by my count, all together we placed over 1,000(!) notes in that first novel (and yes, Subtext plans to expand their offerings to cover further novels in the series). From Anne’s unique behind-the-scenes, editor’s-eye-view of things to Sean’s incisive commentary to my noodling about with facts, figures, and trivia, I think this unique annotated edition of A Game of Thrones will be an excellent means of interacting with the book—not least because it’s now a living text. Being socially augmented means you can annotate it for your fellow readers, or just your particular friends, or even just for yourself—whichever you prefer. And those who read it? They can respond in the note, and suddenly a discussion is born, turning a book into a kind of forum.
The potential’s there for a multitude of unique annotations—one person might annotate nothing but details of food and drink in the setting (what do you say, Inn at the Crossroads?), another may be more interested in discussing details of a particular mystery or story thread—and line-by-line discussion is entirely feasible. In some cases, authors have joined with Subtext to add notes for their own works, and are sure to be very interested in interacting with their readers. It’s a completely different way to interact with a text, and best of all, it’s at a level that you get to decide. Maybe you’re just there for the author’s notes, or those of experts, and aren’t interested in the rest of the social features. Maybe you want to set up an book club with friends over the internet, and start going through the books and adding your own commentary just for one another. Whatever—it’s up to you!
Here’s a video that gives you more of an idea about what Subtext is and what it does:
Presently, Subtext is an iPad only app, but they’re now working on a web version. To be able to get the full annotations of a supported book, just get the Google eBooks or Kobo edition of the novel in question and associate it within Subtext. Besides A Game of Thrones, novels by Lev Grossman, Max Barry, Lisa See, Frances Mayes, and more.