Critical Linking: December 26th, 2013

 

From JD Salinger’s secret ailment to Beyoncé’s literary homage, 2013 was a year of literary surprises – test your recall in our quiz of the year in books.

Really is amazing what happens in a year in the book world.

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But what if a scientist were to discover a treatment that required minimal time and training to administer, and didn’t have the side effects of drugs? In 2003, a psychiatrist in Wales became convinced that he had. Dr. Neil Frude noticed that some patients, frustrated by year-long waits for treatment, were reading up on depression in the meantime. And of the more than 100,000 self-help books in print, a handful often seemed to work.

Sometimes books help. Why not make them part of mental-health treatment?

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The move to exploit reading data is one aspect of how consumer analytics is making its way into every corner of the culture. Amazon and Barnes & Noble already collect vast amounts of information from their e-readers but keep it proprietary. Now the start-ups — which also include Entitle, a North Carolina-based company — are hoping to profit by telling all.

“We’re going to be pretty open about sharing this data so people can use it to publish better books,” said Trip Adler, Scribd’s chief executive.

Am the only one skeptical that seeing when people stop reading is going to be that helpful? People stop reading books for all sorts of reasons that aren’t readily apparent from position.

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