Didn't Finish That E-Book? Your Digital Librarian Knows

New subscription services track data, feed it back to publishers

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 25, 2013 11:39 AM CST

(Newser) – If you happened to pick up Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s The Cycles of American History in e-book form and read it in full, congratulations. You are among the 1% who made it all the way through, at least according to the digital library startup Oyster. That's one of the nuggets highlighted in a New York Times story today on how Oyster and similar subscription services such as Scribd and Entitle are trying to change the publishing game: People pay for the privilege of access to a large digital library, and those libraries collect scads of information about what people are reading and how they are reading it.

For example:

  • "The longer a mystery novel is, the more likely readers are to jump to the end to see who done it," writes David Streitfeld. "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."
The libraries say they keep the data anonymous but will share it with the publishers and writers who agree to make their books available to them. As young-adult author Quinn Loftis puts it, “What writer would pass up the opportunity to peer into the reader’s mind?” Click for the full story.

A Nook GlowLight, top, a Kindle Paperwhite, right, and a Kobo Aura.
A Nook GlowLight, top, a Kindle Paperwhite, right, and a Kobo Aura.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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