What that e-book you are reading is telling the publisher about you

Kindle readersBack in that other century when we read books made of paper, publishers had no way of knowing what you were doing while you were reading their book. Reading was a private act. Maybe you only read the first 20 pages. Maybe you skimmed until you got to chapter 4. Did you underline some favorite parts?

But e-books are changing that part of reading too.

Yes, I know that you think that when you were reading the Fifty Shades Trilogy books on your Kindle that no one else at the pool knew what you were doing. Well, the pool people may not know, but the people who sold you that device know.

An article in the Wall Street Journal describes how e-books are providing feedback to publishers (and authors) about how you are reading.

bookHere are a few factoids:

It takes the average reader just seven hours to read the final book in Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games trilogy on the Kobo e-reader—about 57 pages an hour.

Nearly 18,000 Kindle readers have highlighted the same line from the second book in the series: "Because sometimes things happen to people and they're not equipped to deal with them."

And on Barnes & Noble's NOOK, the first thing that most readers do upon finishing the first "Hunger Games" book is to download the next one.

What will publishers, booksellers and authors do with this data? 

NOOKBarnes & Noble knows from NOOK data that we are more distracted reading nonfiction books but that we usually read novels straight through. We also give up on nonfiction books, particularly long ones, a more frequently than fiction.

Who reads more books more quickly? It is the science-fiction, romance and crime-fiction fans - not those readers of literary fiction. They also finish most of the books they start. Those "better-educated" readers of literary fiction quit books more often and tend to skip around between books.

Okay, marketing team - What do we want to do with this information? Should we stock less literary fiction and more sci-fi?

For example, Barnes & Noble decided that to get readers more engaged in that nonfiction that they bail out on, they would launch "Nook Snaps" with short works of non-fiction.

And if you can know the point where readers get bored, then you could insert some additional content like video, a Web link or other multimedia features there to hold their interest. Maybe you tell an author to make chapters shorter - 40 chapters instead of 20.

Maybe they can figure out the best-seller "formula" and then we can all write one.


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