Reader Feedback

You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
Paul Sweeney

I just watched the interview with George R. R. Martin (on Conan):

What I found interesting was the comment that with his fantasy series becoming a successful TV Show, he could finally see how people reacted to the scenes he had written. And, boy, did they react:

Interestingly, a few people were rather calm about it, e.g., the smirking girl and boy in blue at about 04:50, either because they don’t care about it, already knew it — reading books has advantages — or because they are sadists 😉

In case you are wondering, [don’t watch it if you are pregnant or think about having kids, or while eating, seriously] the scene they are watching is also online — however, this only works “well” if you know and like both the show and the characters. Otherwise, the reactions seem incomprehensible.

It must be interesting to touch the hearts of so many people — and this in the moment feedback seems really hard to get. Fan letters tell you how your readers look back at the reading, but it is very hard to get in the moment feedback of your readers.

Makes me wonder when digital media is finally used intelligently for digital reading — after all, many tablets (like the iPad) have a camera and a microphone. It would be possible to record readers reactions the first time they read a particularly involving moment. All you need is an app that activates camera and microphone at that moment (with the readers consent, but without alerting/warning him/her about it when it happens). Trigger it with opening a specific page range and there you go — see/hear readers frowning, laughing, crying. Perhaps you even see a quick sweep of the room as the ebook goes flying through the room. Afterwards, show it to the reader and ask him/her whether he/she wants to submit it as author feedback. If you could modify the hardware, using sensors for skin conductance level would be nice to find out where something happens to the reader. While interpretation is difficult, aggregated across different readers (and perhaps segmented according to characteristics of the readers) might provide a really interesting picture.

After all, you can wire people up when you present them movies (e.g., advertisements) to gauge their reaction, why not do the same thing for fictional writing (would also work for blogs and the like ;-))?

Would be very interesting reader feedback 🙂