First published on www.forbes.com.
It is hard to pick a good book to read online. Not for a lack of choice – over 340,000 books were published in 2011 according to Bowker and that doesn’t include eBooks. The problem is two-fold: first, there are many more books to choose from than in generations past (in 1950, for example, just 11,000 titles were published). Secondly, it’s harder to evaluate whether a book found online is worth reading. Online peer reviews are notoriously unreliable, and although Amazon and other sites have made significant efforts to eliminate biased or untrustworthy reviews, it is still difficult to judge the quality of a book from consumer reviews alone.