One of the promises of our digital world is the ability to track engagement with digital information. Who is looking at what information, what do they do, how long do they stay, what pathway do they follow, etc. If it is digital, and there is communication connection, someone is going to develop a way to collect and analyze behavior.
There are examples all around us of tools that companies use to help them better understand consumer behavior. You’ve probably heard of Google Analytics for websites, well now there are analytic tools making their way into the eBook world. (For a good primer on the topic see this Wall Street Journal article titled Your eBook Is Reading You, originally published in June 2012.)
Amazon’s Kindle introduced us to Popular Highlights in 2010—the collective highlighting of everyone who has read a particular Kindle eBook. Participation is voluntary and theoretically anonymous. A perennial favorite is this line from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: ” It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Amazon has gone so far as to create a continually updated web page with the “most highlighted passages of all time“.
Hiptype, a New Entrant in eBook Analytics
One service that is getting a lot of press lately is Hiptype. Hiptype works with publishers to install their software on select eBooks. The data generated by people reading the books is collected, processed and analyzed to help publishers better understand their readers. It can answer questions like: How many people buy the book after downloading a sample? Does the reader finish the book? If not, where do they stop reading? What chapters do they skip? They don’t come out and say this but imagine overlaying this data with information about the buyer (age, gender, location) to form an even deeper understanding about who we are.
For example, early data suggests only 3 to 4% of those that download a sample go on to buy the book and almost a third of the readers that do buy the book never make it to page 50. That reinforces the importance of making sure you have a solid sample and hook your reader early.
Clearly this kind of information makes publishing a more efficient undertaking by removing some of the risk associated with picking titles or at least marketing them. Privacy watchdogs are understandably concerned.
To learn more check out this article by Laura Hazard Owen that ran on PaidContent.org. You can also watch a video interview (below) that O’Reilly’s Joe Wikert conducted with Hiptype co-founder James Levy (a written summary is here).
Free Webinar on eBook Analytics
And if you are reading this before September 13, 2012 there is a free webinar called eBooks: Analytics Gold Mine being offered by PublishingBusiness.com.
There is more to eBook publishing than simply converting a manuscript to a particular file format. Sellbox works with publishers to design and develop eBooks that readers want to read. Contact us today.