I recently learned about a new service called Bookshout, a company that provides audiobook codes to corporations so, in turn, they can distribute “books” to clients, prospective clients or employees. It creates a simple method of distribution, either allowing the recipient to choose which book they read or making it easy to get a required reading into the hands of everyone throughout the company. They claim that through Bookshout, people have read 8,400,820,497 words!

And they would know. Beyond promoting its distribution system, Bookshout also brags about its ability to track the use of the e-reader codes. For individuals, it allows people to set reading goals and track their progress against friends (or strangers) – in short, adding gamification to the leisure reading process. You can see how you rank in total words read vs. others in your social circle if you care to know that information.

For companies, Bookshout will “gather critical data to verify who is actually reading” – sharing with the company the code user’s reading habits and total words read. They promote it as “audio with accountability.” So much for skimming the summary before your corporate retreat!

For some individuals, the tracking feature may be appealing, but in the company realm, it feels too intrusive for me. What kind of a culture does the corporation have if they have to monitor reading habits? And if you don’t trust your employees to read a book, how do you trust them with your product or service? Any goodwill that could be garnered by providing professional development or a common reading experience seems to be lost in the data collection.

Technology allows us to easily capture and report an increased level of detail and data. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. In my mind, that goes for Bookshout, too.


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