“They” Know What You’re Reading – The eBook Spy Game


In a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, is was reported that marketing and analytics are available about readers like never before, thanks to eReaders. Reading has been until recently an individual entertainment venture. Most of us purchase a book rather anonomously and read it at our leisure or choose not to read for various reasons.

With eBooks however, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Google are among those collecting information about every facet of your reading experience. They can record not only what books you purchase but how long it takes you to read them, what passages you linger on, which authors are your favorites, how many times you open your book, and what you purchase after reading a title.

The WSJ notes in their article: “It takes the average reader just seven hours to read the final book in Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” trilogy on the Kobo e-reader—about 57 pages an hour. Nearly 18,000 Kindle readers have highlighted the same line from the second book in the series: “Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.” And on Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the first thing that most readers do upon finishing the first “Hunger Games” book is to download the next one.”

While this may be a boon to the publishing industry who can use these statistics to drive sales, privacy concerns are very real. Amazon sees no issue in tracking their readers as Kinley Pearsal of Amazon said: “We think of it as the collective intelligence of all the people reading on Kindle. Although Amazon declined WSJ’s request for specifics on how they are using the collected information.

Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for consumer rights and privacy counters that statement with: “There’s a societal ideal that what you read is nobody else’s business. Right now, there’s no way for you to tell Amazon, I want to buy your books, but I don’t want you to track what I’m reading.”

You can read the complete article on WSJ’s website.