For them to be able to see most readers are skipping the introduction of this book, most readers are heavily underlining the third chapter of this book, that’s a pretty good indication of what is of interest to large groups of readers. They can use that to tailor books to people’s taste more.More, in her precursor piece for the WSJ:
Of course, not every book will be put through a focus group. I mean, you’re not gonna have Jonathan Franzen’s next novel cut in half because 30% of people didn’t finish Freedom, 25% of people didn’t finish The Corrections.
But I have talked to publishers who said, you know, they would like to have this kind of information. They wish Amazon would share it. Barnes & Noble intends to share some of it with publishers. So they’re looking forward to having a better sense of what readers like.
Barnes & Noble has determined, through analyzing Nook data, that nonfiction books tend to be read in fits and starts, while novels are generally read straight through, and that nonfiction books, particularly long ones, tend to get dropped earlier. Science-fiction, romance and crime-fiction fans often read more books more quickly than readers of literary fiction do, and finish most of the books they start. Readers of literary fiction quit books more often and tend skip around between books....
Some authors welcome the prospect [of analyzing data]. Novelist Scott Turow says he's long been frustrated by the industry's failure to study its customer base. "I once had an argument with one of my publishers when I said, 'I've been publishing with you for a long time and you still don't know who buys my books,' and he said, 'Well, nobody in publishing knows that,' " says Mr. Turow, president of the Authors Guild. "If you can find out that a book is too long and you've got to be more rigorous in cutting, personally I'd love to get the information."