Finishing books is all about the first 100 pages

At least that's what Jellybooks' analysis seems to indicate. Jellybooks are a data collecting service for publishers. They give their members free digital books and in return track their reading behaviour.


It's interesting how closely the microcosm of author data collection mirrors the broader world of online data collection. According to the NYT article:

"Jellybooks has run tests on nearly 200 books for seven publishers, one major American publisher, three British publishers and three German houses. Most of the publishers did not want to be identified, to avoid alarming their authors."

It feels like there's something sinister about testing your author's books with a speculative technology and not telling them. Imagine being bared from your job without knowing why or whether the analysis was valid. That second part is important: we often adopt data-driven tech far too early because our ideological compulsion towards optimisation outstrips real world capacity for optimisation. It's why good ads are tested to death and why the best innovations don't tend to come from the R&D labs of major companies. But that rarely stops marketers from putting their faith in new tech:

"...some are using the findings to shape their marketing plans. For example, one European publisher reduced its marketing budget for a book it had paid a lot of money to acquire after learning that 90 percent of readers gave up after only five chapters. A German publisher decided to increase advertising and marketing on a debut crime novel after data showed that nearly 70 percent of readers finished it.”

Still, there's something attractive about understanding how we read (my favourite stat was that business books have "surprisingly low" completion rates).

Books occupy such a personal space in our lives and readings shapes how we think and interact with everything. In fact, I'm shaping your brain right now. 

Do you like it?

~Read the full NYT article on Jellybooks here.~