Metadata for Tracking

My blog post from last week discussed some specific questions I had in regards to tracking reader habits. So, this week, I want to discuss something more behind the scenes of tracking—metadata.

A couple weeks ago, our class discussed the metadata behind books, but what about the metadata behind the readers? In an article on the Publishing Perspectives blog, the owner of Jellybooks Andrew Rhomberg talks about some of the reader data they collect: “Do they open the book? Do they finish the book? Do they read the book during their commute or do they read on weekends? Do they read the book fast, do they read it slow?” and many other questions are listed, questions that Jellybooks aims to answer with their reader tracking software.

These are great questions to answer, and I can definitely see how the answers to such questions would help publishers make more informed decisions about what books to publish, and when. However, I think a lot is left out by excluding the metadata of readers. Questions like “Do they read the book during their commute or do they read on weekends?” implies that Jellybooks knows when people are on their commute, but those who work on weekends could be reading on their commute and their reading time would count as weekend reading.

People who read using ereaders know that their reading progress is being tracked. (It would be in the terms and conditions, and even if they do not read the T&Cs it should be obvious to the average person.) If Jellybooks and other reader tracking software companies collected metadata from their readers to specify their collected data, I think they would get a lot more useful, specific information. They could start with a reader survey, asking questions such as: When are you most often commuting to work / school? What are your most common days off? Are you generally a slow reader or a fast reader? These questions can help to narrow down and specify the data already being collected and help publishers and booksellers to better know their customers.

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