Your E-Book Is Reading You

I don’t have a Kindle or any other kind of e-book. I prefer paper to plastic when it comes to a “screen.” I’ve said it before in other forums, but the ideal electronic book for me would be a paperback-like object — one that was bendable, smelled like paper and had 200 or so pages — but that worked like an e-book. You could download your favorite novel or story collection to this little gadget, enjoy it’s bookiness and still have all of the advantages of an electronic book.

And just what are those advantages? From the reader’s point of view, an e-book weighs the same no matter how many titles it contains. It takes up very little space. It’s easy to buy books with and, if it’s a newer version, allows a person to surf the Internet and do many of the things that a laptop allows.

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

From the publishers point of view, e-books are a God-send. They capture data from the user that provides a wealth of information into book-buying habits. Publishers know how many people buy a book, when they make the purchase, how intensely they read it and what they do after they’ve finished reading it, just to name a few.

In this Wall Street Journal article, Alexandra Alter writes, “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. Jim Hilt, the company’s vice president of e-books, says the company is starting to share their insights with publishers to help them create books that better hold people’s attention.”

Here’s more from that article:

“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 to skip around between books.”

This whole e-book movement makes me a little concerned for literary fiction, frankly. I just hope that at the same time the Kindles and Nooks are watching people’s reading habits, they’re also opening up the market and creating a bigger audience for literary fiction. I would hate to see it die with paper.

Photo: kodomut / Flickr Creative Commons

3 Comments on “Your E-Book Is Reading You”

  1. Wow…. as I was reading that quote, it was like someone was talking about me. That’s scary. I don’t want people to profile me by my reading habits. I wish there was an alternative, but for me, I’m going to stick with real books for as long as they last. Then, I’ll probably just start reading only old books. There’s enough of them I’m sure I won’t get through them all.

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