JellyBooks is a data collection company that is changing the way publishers analyze books. When you sign up for their free service, you are given Advanced Reader Copies of books in electronic form. They benefit from this by tracking every detail of your reading habits. What chapters you skipped, when you stopped reading, and whether or not you would recommend the book.
This data is then used by publishers to determine the flaws or successes of their writers. For example, perhaps there is a chapter or two in a book that are consistently skipped by a significant number of readers. The publisher now has an insight that they can act upon before the book is officially released. They may decide to have the writer re-write the chapter or delete it entirely.
Even though this is obviously valuable information, huge problems can arise between the publisher and the writer. It is no secret that publishers are in the business to make money and not to nurture their writers’ artistic souls. Sometimes writers put things in books that are simply for themselves and are not meant to increase the profitability of their book.
Typically authors only have to worry about book sales and reviews. As long as there is a large spike in purchases somewhere on the timeline, chances are their second book will be approved. But now with this more detailed analysis, if the publisher finds out that people stop reading half way through, a second book will be unlikely.
Now let’s not just jump on the anti-publisher bandwagon here. As a business they have every right to publish or not publish a book based on their research. Having this kind of data is of immense value for the business. If a writer cannot keep the attention of their reader, why would the publisher continue to work with the writer?
But who knows how this will affect the mindset of the writer as they sit down to do their work. They are already under the constant pressure of a dwindling attention span, while at the same time keeping up with the over-saturation of stimulus that attacks us at every corner of mainstream society. One thing is for sure, we are not going to stop the progress of technology. For better or for worse, writers need to figure out a way to benefit from the changes rather than burying their head in the sand.
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