“The initial decline during which most readers are lost is much sharper and earlier for men than it is for women, and this is a behaviour that we observe for the majority of books,” writes Rhomberg. “So put another way, men give up on a book much sooner than women do. Given the identical completion rates, we take this to mean that men either have more foresight in this regard or that women continue reading even if they already know that the book is not to their liking. We suspect the latter, but cannot prove it at this point.”So, according to Arthur Rhomberg (Jellybooks founder), an author has somewhere between 20 and 50 pages to convince male readers to finish a book. Personally, I set the limit at 40 pages, figuring by that point I can accurately predict whether or not a particular book is for me.
The study did turn up something interesting about those more likely to complete a book they've started:
Age was a bigger factor in completion rates than gender, found Jellybooks, with readers under 35, and over 45, more likely to finish a book than those between the two ages, for the majority of books. Rhomberg speculates on Digital Book World that readers between the ages of 35 and 45 may be the “most time-pressed demographic”, with “little time for reading”.This makes perfect sense to me. I have kept a personal reading diary/list since February 1, 1970 that includes information about books and pages read per year. Looking back at the list is always fun because of how it reflects my changing literary taste over the past few decades (hopefully, proving that my taste has gotten better, not worse) - but the thing that really jumps out at me is how my overall reading dropped off from my mid-thirties to my mid-forties when family and career demands peaked.
So, while I find the "study" interesting, I'm not at all sure that it proves much because of its female-heavy, small sample and the fact that it did not include tree-books (printed copies). Too, all the books in the study were provided free of charge to the readers, and that makes me wonder whether the "completion rate" would have been higher if the same readers had actually paid for the books with their own money. My own completion rate (which includes purchased books, review copies, library books, and other free books) has been right at 91% for the last five years, for instance. Whether that high rate has more to do with having "skin in the game" or the possibility that I do a better than average job of predicting books I will finish, I don't know.
Regardless of my skepticism, this is a fun study to consider, and I thank Jellybooks for sharing it with the rest of us.