What Kind of Reader Are You?

Reading_girl_blackI saw an article the other day that referenced a study showing when readers quit reading a book. The point of the article was to tell authors they needed to hook readers early, otherwise readers quit.  While that’s certainly important info,  I was fascinated by another part of the article: the chart that showed what percentage of readers read each chapter of the book .

The way the study worked was that several readers were given ereaders and a selection of books to read. The ereaders  recorded at what points in the books readers stopped. In a study like this, one would expect the reader drop-off rate to be fairly steady. Let’s say it was a 10-chapter book. You might expect 90 percent of readers to finish chapter 1,  maybe 85 percent to finish chapter 2, 80 percent to finish chapter 3, and by the time you got to chapter 10, you’d be at 40 percent, which is considered a decent completion rate.

See the study at Digital Book World

Instead, the Digital Book World Study had a chart that showed roughly 60 percent of the readers making it through chapter 4. Then the readers drop off slightly, with about 57 percent reading chapter 5. And here’s where it got interesting for me. At chapter 6, we were back up to 60 percent reading that chapter. My only thought was people got bored in chapter 4 and decided they’d skip ahead a chapter and see if it got better. It apparently didn’t for some, because chapter 7 has what looks like a 55 percent read through rate.

So, I asked some friends about this, and several of them said they would (if they were getting bored but had liked what they’d seen early on) skip ahead to see if the book got better. This is the complete opposite of me, as I’m pretty much done when I’m done. If I’ve decided to stop, I’m just going to stop.  Now, I’ll give a book a fair amount of time, but I don’t do second chances.

Given this study, I thought I’d ask what type of reader are you?

Quick, dirty and decisive. You give a book ten pages or less and you’ve made a decision. The writer must grab you now or it’s not going to happen.

The cynic. You’ll give a book three to six chapters, but after that, if you’re not hooked, you’re pretty confident it’s not going to happen.

Skippy. You’ll give the book a few chapters, and then if it’s not floating your boat, you’ll skip ahead to see if the later chapters are worth sticking around for.

The almost eternal optimist. You’ll read 75 percent or more of the book, thinking it will get better, before you finally give up.

Mama Didn’t Raise No Quitter. You finish every book, no matter.  You may grumble, you may 1-star it, you may tell everyone you know not to get it, but you’re gonna finish that sucker.

Now, I’ll admit, you can fall into more than one category, depending on the book, I think. For example, if someone recommends a book I was hesitant on in the first place, I’m quick, dirty and decisive. If it’s a book I was really looking forward to, I probably fall in the Mama Didn’t Raise No Quitter category. I wanted to read the book, so I’m going to try to prove to myself that I should have. I’d fall in the same category if it was a serial series I started and liked. If I liked book 1, and it’s only a three or four book series, I’ll slog through the rest of the series to find out what happened to the characters I loved in book 1. However, in most cases, I’m the cynic. I’ll give it a decent amount of time, and then bail if it’s not working.

So what kind of reader (or combination) are you?

About RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is a former journalist who now writes fiction. She's reported for the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, as well as the smaller publications Education Technology News and Campus Crime. She has two published novels, Life First and Second Life and blogs for Indies Unlimited and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. For exclusive content and first looks at her new work, sign up for the newsletter at http://rjcrayton.com/subscribe.
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10 Responses to What Kind of Reader Are You?

  1. Lidy says:

    I’m a combination skippy and mama didn’t raise no quitter. If the book is starting to lose my interest, I often skip ahead to see if it’ll get better. Then go back to where I left and read until I catch up to the skipped ahead part. But if it doesn’t get better, even if I stop reading the book, I always return to finish reading it. I just can’t leave a book unfinished, no matter how long it takes me to reach ‘the end.’

  2. I don’t fall into any of these categories as I don’t have a set page or chapter number that I read up to before deciding. I read until I lose interest, get bored, get annoyed with the book, or just fail to get into it. It can be 5 pages, 50 pages, 100 pages whatever. But when I decide to stop reading, I don’t check ahead to see if it improves. When I’m done I’m done.

    • RJ Crayton says:

      Well, I guess I should have thrown in “other” as a category. 🙂 I think it’s good that you’ve got some flexibility. Playing it by ear is good with a book that’s got potential.

  3. Diana says:

    Just a note about picking books – when I select a book on Amazon (e.g) – if it has a one or two ranking I will always read the review. It is very easy to work out whether the review was written by a troll or a sincere, thoughtful reader. Sometimes I will buy the book regardless, other times I will pass on it. I have usually found that if I do buy a book which has a reasoned, thoughtful low-ranked review, it is exactly as described and I might read several chapters of that before putting it aside. Many times I have bought a book which has glowing star ranking and found that it is not nearly as good as hyped. Other books I find are perfectly written, and seemingly there is nothing wrong with them, but for some reason they just don’t “gel” into my mind. I never leave reviews for these as it is not the author’s fault. If I have been asked to review a book, I always make it plain that if I find something which I consider to be an error (or a formatting problem which seems to happen from time to time with digital)I will contact the author privately and tell them what the problem is. I will NEVER give a public review citing so-called bad things or errors to an author who has requested a review and I have accepted the read.

    • RJ Crayton says:

      I think looking at reviews are a great way to narrow down if a book is a good fit. I tend to like to read the lowest reviews, just to get a sense of whether the book’s “problems” will bother me or not. Some readers are very offended by swearing and sex scenes, and if they give it a one-star for that, I’m not on the same page. That’s not going to turn me off of a book. If someone gives it a one star for being one-dimensional or filled with hate and racism, then that book’s not a good fit for me.

  4. As an avid reader, it takes a lot to make me stop reading at any point. Aside from my own writing projects, I’m usually reading 4 to 5 books at once; jumping from one to the other. I’m fully aware that, just because someone has published a book, not every writer can actually write. John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief” comes to mind. The writing was so dismal, with pathetically stereotypical characters, I didn’t get past the third or fourth chapter and never even learned why it was titled “The Pelican Brief.” I’ve only done that with a handful of other books, which have been long forgotten.

  5. Diana says:

    A very interesting study!

    It depends on the book! Sometimes I will give it up after a few chapters, but I rarely last until the 75% mark. If I didn’t enjoy a book in a series, I won’t read the rest of them. If I have read a book by the same author and enjoyed it, I will give a second book by the same author a “more than a few” chapters chance but probably won’t finish it if I really didn’t like it.

    • RJ Crayton says:

      Oh, you bring up good points. I think I treat authors I’ve liked before differently than ones I haven’t. I’ll give an author I’ve liked before more latitude, hoping they pull it out. And generally, I’ll work through two to three books (even if I don’t find them to be stellar), before giving up on the author.

  6. I’m a cynic. Sob. lol

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