The Scribd Book Massachusetts Is Reading More Than Anyone Else
The world of books, once analog by definition, is no longer immune from the insights of data analytics. Our web behavior can tell us a lot about our habits, from what music we like to what pressing questions we ask Google. Now Scribd, a website that allows subscribers to read as many digital books as they want for a flat monthly fee, à la Netflix, has brought those kind of insights to reading.
In conjunction with Parade Magazine, data crunchers at Scribd calculated which book titles are more popular in each U.S. state than in any other state. In Massachusetts, Scribd says, its users are reading Anybody Out There? a 2006 novel by Marian Keyes. It’s not even the strangest choice. In Missouri they’re reading The Princess Diaries. In Tennessee, it’s I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. (Classy, Tennessee.)
You’ve probably noted that these titles don’t align with the current national bestseller lists, or any other lists really. This is in part a function of Scribd’s very limited book selection. Titles from Fifty Shades to The Goldfinch are missing from its library because many publishers don’t make their titles available. The Washington Post had Scribd clarify that, like the EchoNest map of popular music from last month, this is a list of the most distinct book in each state, or the books that are read the most in one state compared to any of the other fifty. They are not the overall most read, which would likely be quite similar across all fifty states.
It’s also a measure of books that we finished reading. Because Big
Brother Bookkeeper isn’t just watching what books you download, it’s watching you turn the physical pages on your random piece of Irish chick lit. Did you skip to the ending to see who did it? Big Bookkeeper knows. In theory, companies like Scribd want to use that data to help authors address their books’ shortcomings. Where did most people give up reading? Which books did they read most quickly? It’s the same kind of data information Netflix promises with its original TV content. In the case of this list, Scribd included only the books that Massachusetts readers actually completed, which is maybe why Anna Karenina didn’t make the cut. Don’t think you can just download it and have people think you’re literary. Big Bookkeeper knows.