Reading Time

I’m so amused that I have to share.

I bought an ebook yesterday from Fictionwise for my Kindle. This is one of the sites that sells ebooks and emags, that ISN’T Amazon. (I know — who thought it was possible?) Fictionwise seems to be a pretty decent site, though I paid more for this ebook than I have for any so far. They promised me a 50% rebate, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it and finally decided it wasn’t worth $7 to me to screw around with it any more. A little bait & switch-y there, but so it goes. Along with the traditional book information, they give this:

Available eBook Formats [MultiFormat – What’s this?]:
Adobe Acrobat (PDF) [895 KB], eReader (PDB) [317 KB], Palm Doc (PDB) [312 KB], Rocket/REB1100 (RB) [278 KB], Microsoft Reader (LIT) [277 KB] – PocketPC 1.0+ Compatible, Franklin eBookMan (FUB) [306 KB], hiebook (KML) [699 KB], Sony Reader (LRF) [364 KB], iSilo (PDB) [259 KB], Mobipocket (PRC) [322 KB], Kindle Compatible (MOBI) [379 KB], OEBFF Format (IMP) [450 KB]
Words: 96890
Reading time: 276-387 min.
Microsoft Reader (LIT) Format: Printing DISABLED, Read-Aloud ENABLED
Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Format: Printing DISABLED, Read-Aloud ENABLED
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED

My favorite part is the offered “reading time.” I suppose this kind of thing is inevitable in a culture where every minute is squeezed for maximum effect. But, is it just me? This seems like such an odd quantification for pleasure reading. I mean, sure, when I was in college or grad school, I figured out my approximate reading rate, so I could plan how long a particular text would take me to get through. Like I would any job. As a consultant, I have to be very good at knowing how long, in terms of billable hours, a given project will take to accomplish. Both by me and anyone on my team. What I do for work or schooling, though, rarely applies to my leisure time.

For those who don’t want to do the math, the reading time suggested here varies between 250 and 350 words per minute. My reading rate is generally around a page a minute, if I’m being pretty direct about it. We already discussed here the whole “paragraphs as mountains” concept and that “industry standard” for genre is 250 words per page. Denser works have more words per page. I find it really interesting that the supposed industry standard for genre matches the bottom end of Fictionwise’s reading rate.

I’m sure there are people who sit around and figure this kind of thing out. All part of product development and placement. Still, as much as I believe I’m jaded and cynical now, things like this continue to surprise me. Which probably shows my enduring naivete in the face of the world’s attempts to toughen me up.

Despite it all, there’s a part of me that’s still the little girl who always had her nose in a book. The girl who picked out the thickest books on the library shelf, because they would last longer. I want to immerse, to lose track of time, to slow down in the second half, so the story won’t end too soon.

Let my reading be timeless, please.

5 Replies to “Reading Time”

  1. I’m curious. Are they talking about reading time (as in you the reader) or are they talking about reading time with regard to the Read Aloud feature, like a run-time associated with an audio book? Not that it matters.

  2. Funny – Kev asked the same question in an email. But if it were the read-aloud option, wouldn’t there be only one rate, not a range?

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