So you can read my books

Tuesday, July 10, 2012




She wrote:

A story is not like a road to follow …

it's more like a house.

You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other,

how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows.

And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space,

whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished.

You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time.

It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.


Reading is solitary and private no longer.

According to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, the major new players in e-book publishing,

Amazon, Apple and Google, can easily track how far readers are getting in books,

how long they spend reading them and which search terms they use to find books.

Book apps for tablets like the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook record how many times readers open the app and how much time they spend reading.

Retailers and some publishers are beginning to sift through the data, gaining unprecedented insight into how people engage with books.

Did you know it takes the average reader just seven hours to read the final book in Suzanne Collins's "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.

Data collected from Nooks reveals, for example, how far readers get in particular books, how quickly they read and how readers of particular genres engage with books.

Barnes & Noble has determined, through analyzing Nook data, that nonfiction books tend to be read in fits and starts,

while novels are generally read straight through,

and that nonfiction books, particularly long ones, tend to get dropped earlier.

Science-fiction, romance and crime-fiction fans often read more books more quickly than readers of literary fiction do, and finish most of the books they start.

Readers of literary fiction quit books more often and tend skip around between books.

Amazon, in particular, has an advantage in this field—

it's both a retailer and a publisher, which puts the company in a unique position to use the data it gathers on its customers' reading habits.

It's no secret that Amazon and other digital book retailers track and store consumer information detailing what books are purchased and read.

Kindle users sign an agreement granting the company permission to store information from the device—

including the last page you've read, plus your bookmarks, highlights, notes and annotations—in its data servers.

Amazon can identify which passages of digital books are popular with readers, and shares some of this data publicly on its website through features such as its "most highlighted passages" list.

Readers digitally "highlight" selections using a button on the Kindle;

they can also opt to see the lines commonly highlighted by other readers as they read a book.

Amazon aggregates these selections to see what gets underlined the most.

Topping the list is the line from the "Hunger Games" trilogy. It is followed by the opening sentence of "Pride and Prejudice."

Forget Big Brother. Big Business is watching you!


  1. Wow, nice trivia but for me it is true, I spend all day with my kindle fire. I can leave the house without a purse, just stuff my ID & some change in my pockets, but my Fire has to go with me. LOL

  2. It'd be great if they would share some of that data with us authors. Then we'd know more what people want.

    I update my reading progress on Goodreads so that's already a matter of public record for anyone who wants to know. I think around 50 pages per hour is pretty average in a normal book. That can be skewed by font sizes and such. I breezed through a 40-page story recently because many of the pages only had one sentence on them.

    Anyway, I generally only highlight errors. I couldn't tell you one line I remember from "The Hunger Games" but then I tend to remember plots far more than sentences.

  3. Alex:
    Yes, it is. I just want to read my book in privacy and chuckle at my own rate!

    I take my Kindle Fire with me all day, too. As a rare blood courier, I sometimes have to wait for a blood hand-off and reading or watching a downloaded movie helps!

    I'm a sucker for good lines of dialogue.

    As for finding out more from your own books, there is a great article that tells you how to find out data like Amazon does:

  4. I don't know if this kind of data is all that reliable. For example, I noticed that when I read my kindle app on my iPad, that when I finish a book it is at 100%. But when I upgraded my iPad to a new one and installed the software, the same book had to be redownloaded (it didn't charge me) and showed me at 0%. Now I did read that book. So now is it saying that I owned it and didn't read it? I think there are problems with this type of tracking and that if they aren't looking at those kinds of errors, then the information they are getting is messed up.

  5. Happy birthday to Alice Munroe! I loved what she wrote. Very nice tribute, Roland.

    As far as my ebook reading me, it's just like websites that embed cookies on the internet. Kind of creepy, really. But as long as they can't get at my credit information, or give me viruses or malware, I guess it's all right.

  6. That is scary. But, I haven't taken the time to highlight anything - and I wonder what they make of the many books I download and are still sitting unopened on my Kindle.

    Do you think someday a voice will wake me in the middle of the night with a "read my e-book" message?