Extending the Book Experience?

By now you’ve probably heard about ShadowCon, the mini-conference hosted by Zak Champagne, Mike Flynn, and Dan Meyer. One of the governing principles of ShadowCon is that the organizers want to “extend the conference experience.” To this end, talks are videoed and put on a website where people can watch them and have conversations with other people, including the person who gave the talk. The session doesn’t live and die in a convention center in another city, but goes back home with attendees and connects to their work in schools.

I was thinking about ShadowCon the other day, and then about books. Which got me wondering, what would it mean to extend the book experience? In the interests of disclosure, I’ll tell you I’m asking that question as both an author and a publisher. I want to experiment with ways to increase interaction and discussion around books so 1) it’s a better reading experience for readers, and 2) authors would get smarter because they’d listen to people’s reactions and stories and perspective about what they wrote.

I’m starting to mull over ways to use my own book as a test case. I already have lots of online additional content to share. 13 blog posts–one for each chapter–are sitting in my drafts folder, waiting for me to press publish when we get close to book publication date. These blogs are full of videos and articles and resources and related blogs and all kinds of good stuff. But what I’m wondering about is how to turn those blogs into two-way spaces, where I share content, yes, but I also hear from readers. If someone reads something in the book and tries it in a classroom, I’d love to know about it. I’d love to hear what worked and didn’t. I’d love to give feedback, if desired, and get feedback (always desired).

So I’m hoping you can help me think about how to do that? When we read books, we usually don’t have access to the author. What I’m wondering is how could access to the author enrich the experience of reading a book? If I open up a forum (here or elsewhere) and make it so readers can talk to each other and to me, and I’d both moderate and be an active participant in the conversation, how would that deepen and extend the experience for all of us?

This internet thing is pretty marvelous, and I have come to treasure the ethos we have in the Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere (#MTBoS). At the same time, books are marvelous. I love them. I love the thoughtfulness, the depth, the level of argumentation, the pace, the quality.

I wonder how to bring what I love about books to the MTBoS? And what I love about the MTBoS to books?

If you feel like sharing ideas, I’d be much obliged. If you could talk to an author during and after reading a book, what would that do for you? How would you like to do that? Comments sections, webinars, uploading video and discussing it, book clubs? Other ideas?