David Streitfeld writes in the New York Times:
“What writer would pass up the opportunity to peer into the reader’s mind?” she asked.
Scribd is just beginning to analyze the data from its subscribers. Some general insights: The longer a mystery novel is, the more likely readers are to jump to the end to see who done it. 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.
At Oyster, a top book is “What Women Want,” promoted as a work that “brings you inside a woman’s head so you can learn how to blow her mind.” Everyone who starts it finishes it. On the other hand, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s “The Cycles of American History” blows no minds: fewer than 1 percent of the readers who start it get to the end.
Oyster data shows that readers are 25 percent more likely to finish books that are broken up into shorter chapters. That is an inevitable consequence of people reading in short sessions during the day on an iPhone.
A few writers might be repelled by too much knowledge. But others would be fascinated, as long as they retained control.
“Would we provide this data to an author? Absolutely,” said Chantal Restivo-Alessi, chief digital officer for HarperCollins Publishers. “But it is up to him how to write the book. The creative process is a mysterious process.”