The new build-it-yourself book

by Jeff Hilimire on August 18, 2011

If you’re like me, there’s just not enough time in the day to read all the things that interest you online. I’m always looking for new ways to aggregate content and distill it down to the things I absolutely don’t want to miss.

I get my content in a lot of different places. I’ve written about Summify, which is a daily email that tells me the top stories retweeted by my social graph. I’ve gone on and on in many posts about my love for Google Reader (thanks to @interpolate for once upon a time convincing me to use Google Reader full time…and for recommending the Reeder app). And like you, I get emails with great content as well, too many to read in fact.

I’ve also talked a lot about how I absolutely love Instapaper and why I use it (I throw all the great content I mentioned above into my Instapaper account to read later, usually from my iPad).

Lately I’ve found myself wanting to consume content in buckets, very much like a book or magazine. What I find with Instapaper is that it’s a great collection of very random things that I want to read. For instance, here is a current look at the top of my Instapaper list:

My Instapaper list

You’ll see that it has pretty random articles. I find that sometimes I want to read about startups and I have to sift through the list to find that type of content. Or I want to read about current events and “news”. Or social media.

I recently wrote about how much I enjoy reading James Altucher. There would be times I would open up Instapaper and I’d want to just sit for a half hour and read a bunch of  his stuff. Then I bought his book really just to thank him because I was reading so much of his stuff for free.

I’m doing the same thing with Colin Nissan right now. He’s hilarious. Proof: read Who’s Your Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor? and The Twelve Days of Christmas. Brilliant.

What I did with Nissan’s stuff is create a folder in Instapaper and throw all the stuff I could find that he had written out there into that folder. I think I ended up with 15 or so articles to read. Basically I created a customized book with only his content. Because I read books on my Kindle via the iPad, pulling up his articles which are similar to chapters, and reading them over the course of an hour is really no different than reading a book.

I can see this becoming more commonplace in the future. We have the ability to create our own books. If you wanted to learn all you could about Location-Based Marketing, you could spend 30 minutes going through the web, finding articles that looked interesting, throwing them into your “book” and then reading them the same way you would read a book you bought from Amazon. Only this would be a curated list of content that fits your specific tastes and needs. And you don’t have to worry about reading a book that an author created with his/her viewpoint and the need to fill 250 pages (so, lots of fluff).

The only thing missing is a way for someone like Colin to get paid for this. I went ahead and bought his book purely to thank him for all the content that I got for free that he wrote. The book is funny too, but if he were to put all this best online content into a downloadable file, I’d be willing to pay a few bucks for that.

I can see the publishing world going in this direction. In the meantime, I’ll be creating my own books of content based on what I want to read. I also think I’m going to create my own “book” of what I think my best posts have been and see what that process is like, and if anyone downloads it.

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