Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Technology to the Rescue!

BY: LINDA ROBERTSON, author of the Persephone Alcmedi series

I've learned so much from my fellow word-whores this week. I feel like we are stepping it up a notch, focusing on our craft and demanding growth from each other lately. That's a very good thing. And we should be expecting the same of the professionals out there handling our work--our babies, so to speak-- and demanding that they grow and help readers who would like our work find us.

As we toss out our thoughts on "discovery" this week, I've admittedly had to do some research. The coolest tidbit I discovered (ha) was in the Wall Street Journal.

Here's some short paragraphs from an article titled YOUR EREADER is READING YOU.

It takes the average reader just seven hours to read the final book in Suzanne Collins's "Hunger Games" trilogy on the Kobo e-reader—about 57 pages an hour. Nearly 18,000 Kindle readers have highlighted the same line from the second book in the series: "Because sometimes things happen to people and they're not equipped to deal with them." And on Barnes & Noble's Nook, the first thing that most readers do upon finishing the first "Hunger Games" book is to download the next one. 
In the past, publishers and authors had no way of knowing what happens when a reader sits down with a book. Does the reader quit after three pages, or finish it in a single sitting? Do most readers skip over the introduction, or read it closely, underlining passages and scrawling notes in the margins? Now, e-books are providing a glimpse into the story behind the sales figures, revealing not only how many people buy particular books, but how intensely they read them.
... Pinpointing the moment when readers get bored could also help publishers create splashier digital editions by adding a video, a Web link or other multimedia features, Mr. Hilt says. Publishers might be able to determine when interest in a fiction series is flagging if readers who bought and finished the first two books quickly suddenly slow down or quit reading later books in the series.
"The bigger trend we're trying to unearth is where are those drop-offs in certain kinds of books, and what can we do with publishers to prevent that?" Mr. Hilt says. "If we can help authors create even better books than they create today, it's a win for everybody."

                               ...from the Wall Street Journal By ALEXANDRA ALTER here 

I realize this isn't exactly about readers discovering books, but it IS about the technology that is analyzing readers. This is exciting, a little frightening, but very very exciting! They have the means to determine so many things about readers, and to use this data to aid them in finding more products (i.e. BOOKS!) that they would also enjoy discovering. It's coming, people.

What I'm most jazzed about is the multimedia features. When I was young and looking at college options, I wanted to write books, compose music, and create artwork all about my stories. In the days to come, that book I wrote a musical score for, might actually come with that music included! Some of the artwork I create during the writing process might able to be included. How freaking cool is

Pardon my slight veer off-topic, but tell me, those of you with ereaders, what would you like option-wise in your stories? Would you like link options on certain pages to photographs I've taken of the real sites in Cleveland where my stories take place? Or do you prefer the "movie/images" you create in your imagination? Do you think the images would enhance or detract from your experience? What about music? What about artwork?

After you chime in, (please do), hit the link and check out the rest of that article. :-).


  1. Why are some parts of my post coming up withwhite highlight???? Grrrrr

    1. Fixed it Linda - probably depends on how your getting the text in there. If you're copying and pasting from Word, for example, stuff can get messed up...

    2. I copy into word pad, but those parts came up fine. The rest I just typed in on the site on my computer. WEIRD. Tnx for fixing!!!!

  2. I wonder how much of the data that is available for mining will actually be applied to the business...and how much of it will be made available down to the author level. Conversely, as an author, do I want deal with the repercussions of knowing that much about how my readers read? I'm data obsessed, so sure, I want the data, but do I want editors using formulas to dictate the changes in the story?

    So many pros and cons to that level of data-mining. But it's cool the ability to do it is available.

  3. I prefer the images in my head. I already have a problem with books I love being made into movies - because the people they cast never look right. (I mean, Molly Ringwald as Franny in The Stand? Seriously?) If they start slipping images into books themselves... I'll get used to it, of course, but I'm not going to be happy about it.

    On the other hand, the music would be cool. I love having songs to associate with what I'm reading.

  4. I'll be honest - I'm not sure I really want a lot of multi-media in my books. I get where it's cool, but I'm already so plugged in via my iPad/iPhone/computer...when I go to read a book, I don't want any other distractions. But maybe that's just me...

  5. I haven't been the biggest fan of the idea of "enhanced" ebooks, especially because I suspect that this would be used by the publishers as justification to charge more money. Plus, when I read a book, I'm swept up in it. I don't usually want a link that takes me away from the story. However, since I love to travel, I can see where it would be fun to link to photos of places being described.

  6. I read that article when it came out and like you I was amazed and a little scared. What a great tool for authors and publishing companies. But sometimes to much data could be harmful to the writers expression. One of the things the data can tell is when do people quit reading a book. If publishers find out that most people stop reading book X around chapter 4 then are they going to demand that the author change things? where do they stop with the suggestions. Suddenly everything published looks the same cause they are trying to hit the same demographic. if that makes sense
    I wouldn't want to many multi-media options. I can go to the authors website for that kind of thing. Every book/character means something different to each person...adding visual aids will take some of that away.

  7. Thanks for all your comments everyone! Always thought-provoking ideas in here. :-) Hope your hump day was happy!