Don’t Look Now, But You Are Being Followed

The world is filled with paranoid delusional conspiracy theorists involved in an elaborate campaign out to get the rest of us!

Attention everyone! To the underground bunker!

So, you think you own an e-book “reader”?  Think again bunky. That e-book reading machine is spying on you.

Seriously folks, if you don’t know this already, your e-book reader is a two-way communication device that allows you to pull in any book you desire, but also transmits information back about what you are reading, where you stopped reading and even what sections you highlighted.

Late last year, Amazon released some its Kindle reading data to The Atlantic and it revealed some interesting facts.  For instance, the most highlighted Bible passage was from the NIV Bible, from Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(Phil. 4:6-7)

Not a bad section to highlight, now that I think about it.

The same wireless connection that allows a consumer to download an e-book in a busy airport or moving automobile also transmits data on your reading and highlighting habits to the e-book seller. They know a lot more than you think they know.

For instance, Amazon knows what books have been purchased and never read. They know where readers tended to stop reading a particular book. They know what sections are the strongest based on what was highlighted.

When Amazon decided to get into publishing books a few years ago, they started out with an enormous amount of information on millions of book titles and reading trends. While they have not be able to achieve significant distribution of their own proprietary or self-published titles outside of the Amazon online world, they certainly have information no one else has on reading habits of their customers.

One of the issues that e-book reading data has created is to put some cold facts to the myth that just because someone buys a book, they read it in its entirety.

A percentage will read part of it.

A percentage will never read it.

A couple weeks ago, Canadian based e-book retailer Kobo released reading data and specifically mentioned Donna Tartt’s bestseller The Goldfinch was finished by less than half of the readers in Britain and Canada. Still it was a best-seller.

They also mentioned that the national average for finishing a mystery novel is 62%. That means that over a third of mystery readers are not intrigued enough to find out whodunit.

All this reminds me of the various surveys and studies done over the years related to Bible reading. Some organizations will look at increased Bible sales or distribution as an indication of increased Bible reading.  That might not be the case.

Every author would like to sell a lot of their work and have people read it, like it and be ready to buy their next book. Keep in mind that you are fighting to maintain reader attention in every chapter.

Nothing can stop a compelling book from being read to…

The End.

To read the full article on Amazon from The Atlantic, click here.

For the full article about Kobo data, click here.


Leave a Comment

Five Steps to Finding Hot Topics

Last week we talked about finding things to write about, things that will resonate with our readers, by looking at the people around us. Today I want to share some easy steps you can take to dig deeper into this idea. Step One Start by looking at yourself. Yes, you. …

Read More

Heartsong’s Publishing Legacy

Last week, as mentioned in Tamela’s wonderful tribute, Harlequin announced that the Heartsong Presents imprint is going to be shuttered. Heartsong Presents has been primarily a “direct-to-consumer” book club which published romance titles with a specifically Christian message. {And last week I joked about how things can change on Tuesday… This announcement came …

Read More

Farewell to Heartsong

Earlier this week I received a call from Kathy Davis, acquisitions editor for Harlequin Heartsong Presents. She told me I was the first agent she called. Unfortunately, she had bad news. Heartsong Presents as a line will cease publication next year. I was sorry to learn that Kathy will also …

Read More

Standing for Something

Take a Stand

When Al Ries and Jack Trout published their classic marketing book Positioning in 1981, the concept of the book and the single-word title became a white-hot marketing buzzword, much in the same way as “platform” is today. I am not going to dig into that classic business title today or …

Read More

Another Day, Another Change

It is a long standing joke that if you think you know what a publisher is looking for, wait for Tuesday. Why? Because in one meeting everything can change. Suddenly they are looking for Texas NASCAR Romance but using an Urban Fantasy setting. Acquisitions often reflect the editorial and marketing staff …

Read More

Healthy Brain Food

In this social media-saturated world where everyone seems to have an opinion about everything, it is very important to quickly determine those voices you pay attention to and those you tune out. When it comes to the book publishing business, I narrow down who I pay attention to simply because …

Read More

Are You Being Too Transparent?

Have you seen the show Blue Bloods? Great show—I mean, how can it not be with Tom Selleck? Do I hear an amen??—that focuses on solid family connections and deals with tough, current issues. The most recent episode made me sit back and go, “Wow. I needed that reminder.” So …

Read More

2014 Bestseller List – Exciting New Developments!

A little over a year ago I explored the issue of best-seller lists for Christian books (“The Mystery of the Bestseller List”). However, in the last thirteen months, much has changed. The New York Times is adding some new niche-lists to their collection, which will affect Christian titles. A company …

Read More