Sleepless in Seattle?
Someone at Amazon seems to have a bit too much time on their hands. Have you seen the Text Stats page that's starting to accompany more and more product pages on Amazon? Here's a link to the one for our Web Analytics: An Hour a Day.
Tools like Microsoft Word have offered readability statistics for quite awhile but I don't recall seeing any from an online bookseller till I recently stumbled across this Amazon feature. I especially appreciate the fact that they assume I can't subtract from 100, so I'm not only told what percentage of all other books are easier on the Fog index (55%), but they do the math and also tell me what percentage are harder (45%).
The silliness factor seems to increase as you go down the page. Syllables per word? How about the number of characters in the book? I'm pleased to see that only 11% of all other books have more characters than ours. The best is at the bottom though: The "Fun stats" show we're offering 7,590 words per dollar and 6,056 words per ounce. Pretty soon we'll be able to start touting that, "pound for pound, we have the most words to offer in the web analytics category!"
Joe, I love the blog, but on this one I have to disagree with you. I work in the educational arm of publishing (Pre-K-12) and those stats actually are useful (and in demand) for teachers and hyper-involved parents who want to suggest/approve/assign books appropriate and/or challenging to a student's ability. We provide them for our textbooks and ancillaries, but I think it's great that someone can get them for something the student may have chosen, whether it's Harry Potter or Web Analytics.
Now, do I think we need to be told the remaining percentage? Obviously not. But I do kinda like knowing the per-word value of everything on my shelves . . . a source of hitherto untold riches, no doubt.
Posted by: Angelle | November 02, 2007 at 05:32 PM
Hi Angelle. I'm sure educators do indeed find this information useful. I was mostly poking fun at (a) the fact that they assume we can't do simple arithmetic and (b) the fairly meaningless "fun stats." I wish they would have invested that brainpower in other more useful features on the site.
Posted by: Joe Wikert | November 03, 2007 at 09:21 AM