The odd Web site of the day is How Long to Read.
You “search over 12 million books and find your reading time for each one.” With me so far? Yes, I can imagine how a site could simply list books’ word counts, ask you to type in your estimated reading speed in words per minute (WPM), then calculate the actual times. Instead HLTR itself tests your reading speed. And rather than using text from an actual book, it relies on, of all things, the hype for the books on Amazon.
What? Is a marketer’s prose the same as the writer’s? Even self-published authors may use a style on Amazon rather different from one in the book itself. Furthermore, can you imagine measuring your reading time for a Faulkner novel—full of long sentences and paragraphs–based on snappy promotional prose?
Marshall McLuhan famously wrote that the medium is the message. Nowadays, is PR hype a book’s real message? HLTR may be just a tiny Web site, but, alas, it unwittingly tells us a lot about the hype culture that has taken over the publishing world—both the traditional and DIY regions. Hype has always been with us. But never has the related culture been more obnoxious. There is as place for publicity, of course, especially when so many books are competing for the reader’s attention; but wittingly or unwittingly, should PR count more than the promoted content itself? I Googled Alexander Thorburn-winsor, the developer of HLTR. Sure enough, his background is in marketing and design.
Beyond the issue of PR hype vs. actual content, why are we so speed-obsessed? Check out After the latest Kindle app update, is it time to go back to slow, by Paul St John Mackintosh, TeleRead’s associate editor.
(Found via Good E-Reader.)