Anyone reading on the Amazon Kindle can see highlights under passages that other people liked, reports the New York Times—a reminder that exchanging ideas can be more fruitful than solitary reflection. Amazon calls this new feature “popular highlights.” It might sound innocuous enough, but it augurs even bigger changes to come. Though the feature can be disabled by the user, “popular highlights” will no doubt alarm Nicholas Carr, whose new book, “The Shallows,” argues that the compulsive skimming, linking, and multitasking of our screen reading is undermining the deep, immersive focus that has defined book culture for centuries. With “popular highlights,” even when we manage to turn off Twitter and the television and sit down to read a good book, there will a chorus of readers turning the pages along with us, pointing out the good bits. Before long, we’ll probably be able to meet those fellow readers, and share stories with them…

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staff and wire services reports