[guest post by JVW]
I must say I got a real kick out of reading this blog post in The Washington Post regarding the – ahem, ahem – lackluster sales of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s summer 2014 spellbinder, Hard Choices. I am not familiar with this blogger, Phillip Bump; perhaps he’s a conservative, perhaps he’s a professional contrarian, but he seems surprisingly gleeful at being able to take the
piss vinegar out of the once and future inevitable President of the United States.
Bump introduces us to an idea called “The Hawking Index” which is a non-scientific way to determine whether readers are really reading a title based upon where in the book are found the most highlights as automatically reported to amazon.com (remember to shop there using the Patterico widget!) by Kindle users. The assumption is that if the most popular highlights come in the first part in the book it can be inferred that readers are abandoning that text without reading all the way through, and that the earlier the most popular highlight appears is an indication that readers aren’t getting too far. I am going to tease you with a hilarious graph displaying the Hawking Index for some well-known titles, but you really ought to read the post to learn the full story.
I think it’s fair to say that not only are fewer people than expected (at least by Simon & Schuster) buying the book, but that the brave souls who plopped out their $15-35 did so out of a weird sense of loyalty to a woman who is a millionaire many times over rather than out of a burning desire to read what she had to say about her disastrous turn as Secretary of State. (And don’t miss Bump’s aside about how many – ahem, ahem – left-wing “intellectuals” are apparently purchasing but not reading Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty.)