Report From the YALSA YA Literature Symposium: Inside the E-Book Book Discussions

Subtext iPad app logoOn Saturday, November 3, attendees at the YALSA YA Literature Symposium had the chance to talk about book discussions that take place from right inside an ebook. That’s right, you can talk about books from right inside the book. No more going to a website like GoodReads or Twitter or Facebook to have your discussions.

The app most talked about for these inside-the-ebook book discussions was Subtext. Subtext is a free iPad app with a lot of features which make inside the ebook book discussions easy to do and fun, too. The two screencasts below give you an overview of how Subtext works and how to get a copy of Steve Hamilton’s Alex Award winning title The Lock Artist (free from Subtext) to read with others to see how inside-the-ebook book discussions (and Subtext) work.

Part 1: Getting Started with Subtext

Part 2: More on Subtext’s discussion and reading features

The group that participated in the YALSA YA Literature Symposium program had a lot of great ideas about using Subtext to have book discussions with any age. These included:

  • Having inside-the-ebook book discussions to connect with homeschooled teens, teens who are homebound, and teens that are in other parts of the country or world.
  • Having authors and experts participate in the book reading. (Imagine if Steve Hamilton read The Lock Artist with us and talked about it while we were reading.)
  • Readers can brainstorm ideas for author visits while inside the book reading a book together.
  • Using inside-the-ebook apps in detention centers where teens are more isolated and might not want to say out loud what they are thinking about when reading a book, but would be able and willing to have a discussion inside the book.
  • Older and younger teens reading a book and talking about a book together (as a part of a mentoring or book buddy program) from inside the book.
  • Since it’s possible to upload epub files to Subtext, teens and adults can look at non-book content together and edit the content, talk about it, etc. This might be a paper a teen is working on a web page or anything else that can be turned into an epub file. (Check out our group’s notes where I have added information on how to create epubs.)
  • Librarians and teens can add links and booklists and other content to inside the ebook book discussions. For example, if I read a note in a book and realize from that note that others would be interested in another book on a similar topic, I can add information about that book to the inside the ebook book discussion.

YA Literature Symposium attendees also talked about the benefits of having discussions anywhere, anytime. Those who can’t attend a formal book discussion can still participate at a time that is convenient. Or teens and adults can read a book together before a formal book discussion takes place as a way to get ready for the face-to-face conversation.

It’s really exciting to start thinking about how anyone, anywhere can talk about a book without ever leaving the book. You don’t have to get distracted by going to another website or social site. You keep the reading momentum going but still have a chance to ask questions and get answers. How cool is that?

— Linda Braun