The incredibly savvy former agent, current author/CNET contributor, Nathan Bransford, has a post up today called Your E-Reader is Watching You. Basically, he’s pointing out that e-books allow Amazon and other distributors to see if readers read books quickly or slowly, if they set the book aside for a while at certain points, or if they stop reading it completely. They have statistics on this stuff, and Nathan Bransford wants to know if authors want to know those stats, if we’d rather be left in the dark, or if we hate the idea of distributors having those stats in the first place (I’m paraphrasing his question here).
My initial reaction? I would love to see those stats! When I have beta readers read my work, one of the things I always ask is for them to let me know when/if they get bored. And, yes, I would learn where readers get bored only after the fact, but I’m constantly trying to improve my writing, and if I could see a pattern of when people set aside my book, I could try to change that in the future.
Of course, perhaps it’s a bad thing to alter our writing based on the responses of a segment of readers? Maybe we would begin worrying too much about reader reception and not enough about the story? I don’t know. I feel like this would just be another type of critique, in a way. You can use it to improve your writing/storytelling, or you could choose to ignore it and write the way you want to.
What do you think? Would you want to see reader stats? Do you think it would help you improve your writing?