“You Really Gonna Read That?”

Last year I wrote about digital content in the classroom and software that makes it possible for college professors to track students’ reading habits. And of course, it’s a short hop from academics to writers in the wider publishing industry. Who doesn’t want to know what makes a reader keep turning the page all the way to the end of the book? And there are some “general insights” which will surprise nobody:

Scribd is just beginning to analyze the data from its subscribers. Some general insights: The longer a mystery novel is, the more likely readers are to jump to the end to see who done it. People are more likely to finish biographies than business titles, but a chapter of a yoga book is all they need. They speed through romances faster than religious titles, and erotica fastest of all.

At Oyster, a top book is “What Women Want,” promoted as a work that “brings you inside a woman’s head so you can learn how to blow her mind.” Everyone who starts it finishes it. On the other hand, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s “The Cycles of American History” blows no minds: fewer than 1 percent of the readers who start it get to the end.

I can see this being hugely useful for writers. But you know I’m going to point out the flip side, right? [Read more…]

Digital Literature: Faster, Better, Cheaper, Poorer….

kid reading an ipad

Shh, I’m reading. (image by Gunjan Karun)

I finally have an iPad!

Yes, that took a while. Because although I live at the intersection of communications and digital everything, I also happen to be on a budget and think gadgets (including, and sometimes especially my beloved Apple products) cost way too darn much. But as it turns out, I’d been enrolled in one of those credit card rewards programs, and I had no idea. Which means I’d racked up the points for years. Which means I had enough to get an iPad. So I did. And there was much rejoicing in the land!

There was also the rediscovery of why, although I am agnostic and will use whatever technology both works and fits the budget, Apple continues to induce that gasp-inducing reaction with great design. The iPad came out of the box fully charged, and in fact, came on when I accidentally hit the power button while trying to get the packaging off. First I was surprised. Then I was set up. Took me a whole 5 minutes. It was an object lesson in how to win my dollars and loyalty: Make. It. Easy.

Then I tried to use the iPad for the purpose for which it is most intended in my house – reading books. Specifically, from the library.  That took longer. [Read more…]