Or, at least with authors.
I would assume, that ever since Amazon implemented the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program, it’s been keeping track of how many pages people have been reading on their kindles. Currently, that’s how they know how much to pay their authors. I know, because I watch my sales figures, like a crack addict waiting for their next fix. I say “assume”, because I can’t be sure that they were really counting pages read during the early days of KU. In those halcyon days, they were paying authors based on the number of times their books were borrowed in KU. They could have been tracking pages read back then, but not actually using it to pay authors. For all I know, they could have been tracking pages read, from the very first time the original Kindle device was used. Paying authors based on pages read, of course makes much more sense. Not only do authors that publish longer books make more money, but authors that write well enough to entice their readers to complete their books, make more money as well.
Now, here’s another safe assumption I’d like to make. If Amazon knows how many pages readers are reading, then I would assume, they know how many people actually finish the books they start. They would know how many people stop half way through a book, or a quarter of the way through, or never get past the first page. There are probably a whole crap load of statistics Amazon has on how people read their books. How fast they read. How often they go back and reread sections or entire books. How long people put a book down before picking it up again. What are people’s favourite reading times … morning, lunch hour, evening? The list could be endless. Sure, all this data collection sounds creepy, what with the current concern with privacy and all. Which, I have to assume is part of the reason that Amazon doesn’t do much publicly with this data. But, for anyone that thinks about it (yes I do), you have to know that Amazon is using it behind the scenes. Hell, I would if it was my company. And, as long as they do it as an aggregate, then there’s really no need for the public to be alarmed. Although of course people will be … just ask the folks at Google about all the backlash when Gmail was first implemented.
I’m actually looking forward to the day when they start sharing some of those numbers. I want to know how far people get into my books. I want to know how many read till the end. I want to know what sections they read the quickest or the slowest. I want to know every statistics about my books that some anal retentive statistician can dream up. Hugh Howey made a post a while back where he talks about this kind of data sharing before KU was even a thing.
That would some real honest unbiased feedback … or maybe totally biased, but who cares, it’s REAL feedback. Better than a small handful of reviews by Joe Smoe. Wouldn’t it be much more meaningful to customers, if they could see how many people finished a book they started. That would be an incredible useful statistic to whether the book was good or not. Far more superior that the crude 5 star rating system currently in play. Imagine how much better pages read in a book would be than reviews. Who cares about some blowhards opinion of my book? What potential readers should know, is how many people actually finished reading my book. How many readers read half my book? How many readers read the first page of my book then deleted it off their Kindle? Holy crap, would that ever be awesome! Scary … yes for writers! But, incredibly helpful as well.
Plus, imagine how much better an author I could be, if I knew exactly where people stopped reading in my books, and all the other stats Amazon could show me. Imagine, how much better my next book would be if I had that kind of feedback on my last book. Man, that would be so cool. As of right now, my readers have read 193,730 pages of my latest novel America’s Sunset. Given that my book is 251 pages long, that works out to about 772 (with rounding) books read. Yes, I’m bragging a little here, because the book has only been live for 17 days. But, I don’t know if that’s really 772 people who finished the book all the way through, or 193,730 people who lost their lunch trying to get through the first page. Which is it Amazon? C’mon tell me, I really want to know. It’ll make me a better writer, which puts better books in your store, and makes your customers happier. We all win.