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Amazon.com today unveiled a new Kindle feature, @author, that will let readers ask questions of authors while reading their books. Confused about the motivations of a particular character? Curious about the author’s literary influences? Need to clarify a particular step in that how-to book? Now you can ask questions from within the e-book itself.

As the name implies, the @author feature leverages Twitter. (And yes, Amazon has secured the @author Twitter account.) Here’s how the process works, as explained by Amazon’s Kindle Daily Post:

To ask one of these authors a question from a Kindle book, just highlight a passage using the 5-way controller, type “@author” followed by your question, and Share. We’ll tweet the question to the author and post it on the Author Page; you’ll automatically receive an email if the author answers your question. You can also ask a question from the Author Page of a participating author; look for the “Ask a question” link beneath the author’s biography or next to one of the author’s books if you want to ask a question specifically about that book.

Not exactly real-time, but interesting nonetheless, and a good example of the future potential of an electronic reading platform. Amazon has lined up about 15 authors to participate initially.

If only Mark Twain were still around for this one.

Thanks to Steve Rubel for pointing this out on Twitter.

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