Amazon Over Your Shoulder

Friday, April 30, 2010

A few weeks ago, Paul Lamere wrote about the kind of statistics Amazon could glean from the reading habits of Kindle users.  Since the software can theoretically track every purchase, page turn, and highlight, Amazon ought to compile those stats (anonymously of course) into something that could help readers decide what books to buy, and satisfy the curiosity of book nerds everywhere with or without Kindles.

For instance, he mentions "Most Abandoned," or the books most often abandoned without finishing:

A chart that shows that  the most abandoned author is James Patterson may steer readers away from Patterson and toward books by better authors.  I’d rather not turn to the New York Times Best Seller list to decide what to read.   I want  to see the Amazon Most Frequently Finished book list instead.

Well from the looks of it, Amazon is doing just that.  This page shows the most highlighted passages of all time from Kindle books, and suggests that Amazon really is collecting stats on reading habits.  The results are disappointing though.  They look like a function of what's popular more than anything: Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Brown, religious novels, self-help books, etc.  But I suppose once they flip the switch, there's no limit to the way Amazon could slice and dice this pile of stats by genre, author, subject, and publishers.

(via @maudnewton and