Migration Patterns and System Faults by John A. A. Logan

On January 21st  this year, I decided to take a peep at my Amazon Sales Dashboard, to see how many “page reads” I was getting on my borrowed/subscription ebooks.
I saw that 65 pages of my short story collection, Storm Damage, had been read that day, in the UK.

I found I couldn’t resist going back the next day to see if more pages had been read. None had.

So I went back the next day. No more of Storm Damage had been read, but I saw that one page of my novel, Agency Woman, had been read, by someone in India.
One page. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that.
The next day, January 24th, I went back again. 7 more pages of Agency Woman had been read now, in India.
Went back the next day, but nothing more. All went quiet for a while on borrows.

Then, I noticed on February 8, in the sales dashboard, that 547 pages of my borrowed/subscription books had been read that day.
I did a specific search for each title, and saw that none of The Survival of Thomas Ford or Storm Damage had been read that day.
All 547 pages were Agency Woman.

That was good, I thought, someone had read all of Agency Woman in one day…this was somehow gratifying…I imagined some enfevered reader hoovering Agency Woman up relentlessly, not stopping even for a cup of tea…this made me glad I had bothered writing it.
I looked to see in “Month-To-Date Unit Sales” which country this reading had happened in, and it was USA. I now imagined more specifically an enfevered American reader, unable to stop reading, having to be taken away, cross-eyed perhaps, for medical assistance…

A few hours later, though, it occurred to me to check how many “Kindle Edition Normalised Pages” were in Agency Woman, to make sure that this reader had indeed read ALL of the book in one day as I first assumed. What if they had left say…10 pages unread, for some reason, saving the rest for another day?
To check this I went to “Bookshelf”, “Promote and Advertise Section”, as I remembered from a prior check that this is where the “Kindle Edition Normalised Pages” count for an ebook is located.
The Amazon website product description page lists Agency Woman’s length at 308 pages, defined by Amazon as “the estimated length calculated using the number of page turns on a Kindle, using settings to closely represent a physical book.”
But I knew that Amazon calculates book length for Kindle Unlimited subscription reads, or Kindle Owners’ Lending Library borrows, differently…with payment being made for each page read…and by that system I saw that Agency Woman is listed as an ebook of 510 “Kindle Edition Normalised Pages”.
But the sales dashboard had told me 547 pages were read on Feb 8.
I went back to “Month-To-Date Unit Sales”, USA section, and paid more attention this time. It said that 510 pages had been read in the USA in February, and I knew from the Sales Dashboard that this was the first Agency Woman read of February…

I went back to the Sales Dashboard again…it definitely said 547 pages of Agency Woman had been read on 8 February.
So, I concluded that this must be a system error. 547 pages had been listed as read on the Sales Dashboard, but only 510 pages were listed as read in the “Month-To-Date-Unit Sales” section…it was a small mistake for the Amazon system to make really…

It took me another hour to remember to search in other countries for those other 37 pages read on 8 February.
I checked them in order. UK? None there. Germany? No. France? No. Spain? No. Italy? No.
Netherlands? No. Japan? No.
India? No.

It was the next one on the drop down menu. Canada. The other 37 pages of Agency Woman had been read there on 8 February.
So the Amazon system had measured it all perfectly, to the exact page.

The only lag had been in the old Logan brain, struggling to keep up…but gratified now at this final realisation…2 readers…in 2 different countries…on the same day, reading Agency Woman.
One hoovering up the whole book in one go…the other taking things more slowly…

It only took me another week to suddenly start wondering/worrying, did I really have a new American/Canadian reader…or did the Indian reader who had read one page of Agency Woman on Jan 23, and 7 more pages on Jan 24, emigrate to the USA, or Canada, in early February…

(Postscript: There may be a pattern here – on February 19th it happened again, 1 page of Agency Woman read in USA, then on Feb 20th 4 more pages read…and no more since…but Amazon’s watching, and so am I now …)


Anonymous said…
Authors will now have to include another reminder for readers at the beginning and end of their books, in addition to asking for reviews and email addresses: Dear Reader, Please remember to turn on your WiFi and resynchronize your device in order to register the pages read.
(P.S. Agency Woman was a very interesting philosophical spy vs. spy yarn set on Foinaven in the far north of the Scottish Highlands.)
madwippitt said…
So glad to know I'm not the only one who obsesses over stuff like this ... :-)
Amanda said…
I was speaking to a local artist, last night, about Agency Woman. Last year, after reading Agency Woman, I was inspired to visit the different settings from the story. Oldshoremore is my favourite setting in the book. I was so mesmerized by the story, and the actual place, that I had a painting commissioned. Lisa (the artist) just finished the painting last night. She paints as beautifully as you write. If I'd not read Agency Woman, then the painting probably wouldn't exist.
I'm sorry that what I've written isn't helpful to anything else that you've written in the blog post. I did giggle, though, when you wrote about "an enfevered American reader, unable to stop reading, having to be taken away, cross-eyed perhaps, for medical assistance…"
Lydia Bennet said…
I"m glad you've found some fan activity far flung John, I frankly can't be arsed to check up on my sales, let alone this sort of thing! Also, if you do have to have wifi on to register pages read, then it's pointless info as virtually everyone will keep their wifi off 99.9% of the time unless actually downloading a newly bought book, at least that's what i do.
Chris Longmuir said…
I'm not in KDP Select so borrows and amount read doesn't really matter to me, but I hadn't given any thought to the fact that a reader's wi-fi must be switched on in order to register the pages read. Therefore, the only real winner in the subscription service is Amazon, and I wonder how many writers have a shortfall in their pages read payments!
Lee said…
Waste of effort. Scrutinise a master writer instead.

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