And they’re using it to make better books [via The Consumerist]
While anyone with a Kindle or Nook knows they can download e-books from the Internet, not everyone is mindful of the fact that they are also sending information back to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (or Google, or Apple). It's not just so that you can switch between your e-reader, laptop, phone and tablet without losing your bookmarks and notes; it's also so that these e-book sellers can share this information with the publishers of the books you're reading.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Data collected from Nooks reveals, for example, how far readers get in particular books, how quickly they read and how readers of particular genres engage with books. Jim Hilt, the company’s vice president of e-books, says the company is starting to share their insights with publishers to help them create books that better hold people’s attention.
So publishers know the obvious things — that readers are more likely to bail out on lengthy, complicated books than they are on shorter, frothy titles. But they also know how quickly people read books, how long people wait between buying a title before they actually read it, which kinds of titles people are likely to buy and/or read after finishing that book, and even things like which sections of a book are most frequently highlighted.
Books have been sold for centuries, but this is the first time that any of this sort of analytic data has been available. In fact, Hilt tells the Journal, B&N has "more data than we can use."
E-book sellers and publishers both stress that the information being shared is not tied to any individual reader. Rather, it’s much like the data available to publishers of websites, who can see which pages, topics, headlines and layouts drive the most traffic and retain the most readers.
The question remains — what will publishers do with this information?
E-readers only continue to grow in popularity, especially when you throw in the number of people who use iPads and other tablets for reading e-books. Depending on what publishers learn from the data we’re sending back to them every time you click to the next page, the industry could be in for some huge changes in just the next few years.