Is a bestselling book the best read?

When buying a book, whether as a present or for a holiday read it’s tempting to use the bestseller lists as a guide as to what’s the best read. However buying just based on titles with highest unit sales doesn’t always provide the most enjoyable and entertaining read. The eBook has opened up a whole new insight into reader engagement – not just what people buy, but whether they read what they buy, and whether they finish the book or abandon it.

This week has seen further analysis that the bestseller list may not necessarily identify a book that has most appeal, by using data aggregated from eBook readers to highlight some interesting findings. In the Summer the Wall Street Journal reported on a research that used data from Kindle highlights to estimate how far through a book readers typically reached.  So if such highlights tended to diminish after 2/3 of the way through a book title this provided a reasonable guide to the typical completion point for a given title.

Teradata’s focus on the benefits in always considering the lowest granularity of data is highlighted by a more recent study based on data from Kobo. Kobo looks at reader engagement using open rates, completion rates, speed of reading, number of sessions: a raft of data that gives publishers much better insight into the trends in publishing: who and what is hot, who’s not, and predictions of how this will change over time. This research showed that the actual best-read book list differed significantly to the top selling list – much to the delight of Casey Kelleher who’s self-published thriller “Rotten To The Core” had, at 83%, the highest completion rate, and yet didn’t appear in the best-selling list.

So before you select your next read, or a gift book, you might want to look beyond the best-sellers to ensure your selection is as entertaining as your hope it to be; that it is opened and gets read from end-to-end.

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