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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.”

“Your E-Book Is Reading You,” WSJ

The WSJ highlights reading data gathered by eBook reader like the Kindle, Kobo and Nook today. In short, the book is about to change forever. Readership data is poised to become the performance metric of choice for authors replacing book sales.


In the same way product managers monitor product conversion funnels, I expect a new class of author to analyze and compare the impacts of protagonist features (hair, skin, demeanor), plot, book length and even fonts on readership. Fiction may well become a quantified science. And it may tell us we are reading the same old stories told in slightly different ways, much like popular music.

Hook Theory, a company that teaches musical theory, analyzed 1300 popular songs and they found most pop songs had the same chords and melodies – it was all the same music, with slight tweaks. There’s a fun music video on how wedding favorite Pachelbel’s Canon in D underpins many popular songs.

It’s my hope that analytics like these will lead to a better understanding of books, music and the reactions they elicit. And much like software products, these insights will lead to innovative new forms of stories and songs. 

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4 thoughts on “From data to disruption

  1. My guess would be that these analytics will spawn two streams of work. The first will be a “scientific” kind of writing where artistic creation disappears in a calculated pursuit for more readers. The second will be what you hope for- creativity inspired in part by a better understanding of the way that people read and respond to what we write.

    Hope we’re right about the second effect- but I’m more sure about the first one.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

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