Kindlology

Most readers get as far as the Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional before giving up; and in fact in later editions of the book all pages beyond this point have been left blank to save on printing costs.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I am new Kindle user and the more I use it, the more I like it. Although it probably will never have the same feeling as reading a book there are two features that gives it some edge.

  1. It's always with me. Even if I do not have it in my backpack, I do have my Android cell phone with Kindle app installed. And what's best, the application knows where I have stopped reading and I can simply continue.
  2. Highlights and bookmarking are much better. Even if I have pencil when reading a book the highlights are hard to find. I love to quote authorities. But it's always hard to find the right page even though I have underlined it. Kindle solves it quite well. You can highlight whatever you want, you can search the notes and highlights, you can access it on-line and you can even tweet it right from the device. You can even see paragraphs frequently highlighted by other readers! (Although I am thinking about switching this feature off, it's a bit disturbing.)

But I do not want to praise Kindle here, I'd like to think about the consequences. There is the other side of the coin. To be able to implement this features, Amazon has to know about every page turn you make. It brings some privacy issues, but I do not want to talk about that neither.

I'd like to imagine how such data could be used for “scientific” purposes. I'd like to know what's my reading speed. Is it lower in the evening? Is it faster when reading thrillers? What's European reading speed? Is it higher than American? Do I skip paragraphs? Do other readers skip the same paragraphs? Is there some part of given book that force people to take a break? Do people make more notes at the beginning of the book? Is there a book that readers usually do not finish? What's the finish rate in general? Are there some books that people just buy but do not even start to read?

You see, there is lot of questions that we can finally find answers for. The only think we need is to persuade Amazon to publish the data and some PhD students to do the statistics. Even without that the data give some interesting result right now. You can see that readers make highlights in fiction books like Eat Pray and Love. I would not expect that. You can see it yourself on http://kindle.amazon.com

PS: I am not the first one who had the same idea, here is one of my predecessor's articles.

Kindle Bookmarks

3 Responses to “Kindlology”

  1. Jan Novotný Says:

    Hi, nice thoughts about statistics. May I have an off-topic question? Is it worth to buy 3G variant of the Kindle reader in Czech Republic? I would need a SIM card with some data plan in that case, I suppose. Wi-FI variant is probably sufficient, am I right? How long it lives without charging?

  2. Lukáš Křečan Says:

    They say that 3G works worldwide so I guess you would not need an extra SIM. Web page claims: "Amazon pays for Kindle’s 3G wireless connectivity." For me Wi-Fi only is sufficient, I mostly use it at home. According to product table the battery life is 3-4 weeks, I own it only for a week and have charged it only after delivery.

    Please be aware that the screen is still quite small, so it's not suitable for reading technical PDFs with lots of source code etc. You can either read tiny lettters of PDF or reformat the document and lose most of the code examples. None of the options is ideal.

  3. Lukáš Křečan Says:

    I have just discovered that most eBooks are more expensive than paperbacks. I am not going to buy eBooks under those conditions so it makes the whole Kindle thing much less useful.