Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Who Finishes Books

Ebook readers know how far you have read through the text, and publishers have been collecting this data:
On average, fewer than half of the books tested were finished by a majority of readers. Most readers typically give up on a book in the early chapters. Women tend to quit after 50 to 100 pages, men after 30 to 50. Only 5 percent of the books Jellybooks tested were completed by more than 75 percent of readers. Sixty percent of books fell into a range where 25 percent to 50 percent of test readers finished them. Business books have surprisingly low completion rates.


G. Verloren said...

Well this seems utterly obvious to me, to the point I'm surprised that anyone else is suprised by this.

There are a lot of books out there - far more than anyone could ever read. They're all competing for our attention, and our willingness to invest our time and effort into reading them. As a natural consequence, the majority of books a person picks up will go unfinished, because we tend to read just far enough into them to decide whether we're actually enjoying the book and want to bother actually finishing it or not.

I would assume the same is very much true of on-demand television and film. I bet Netflix has a whole slew of data showing that huge numbers of viwers will start a show and simply switch it off never to be resumed only a short way in, because it doesn't hold their attention and they decide they'd rather watch or do something else instead.

pootrsox said...

I get a lot of freebies in my areas of reading interest. Free often means they're worth only what I spent. Hence I delete them from my Kindle mostly unread.

G. Verloren said...

Doomsayers used to prophecize that the printing press would destroy literature, because it would democratize books and allow any idiot off the street to publish their works.

Technically they weren't entirely wrong. The ability to get a book published would become incredibly widespread compared to previously, to the point that in the modern day essentially anyone can publish a book for very little expense (although printing and distribution is a bit more involved).

It was the other half of the prophecy - the bit about the subsequent utter ruin of the written word itself - that failed to come true. The printing press was actually an incredible boon not only to authors personally, but also to society at large, and even the entire field of literature itself.

There's always someone out there looking to the future with a keen eye for details and trends, ever vigilant, always at the ready to make hysterical predictions about how it's all going to hell in a handbasket. People likewise said the pencil would ruin literature, for crying out loud. But no matter the subject, you can always find people prognosticating the disastrous end of all that we hold dear as a result of new developments.