The end of 2008 seemed to be all annual reports and end-of-year list making - reading lists, last.fm charts and the Dopplr Annual Reports.
bkkeepr, if you haven't seem it, is like last.fm for books. It's a simple site for tracking what books you're reading, using Twitter as the update mechanism. You just send a message to the bkkeepr Twitter bot with the ISBN number and whether you're starting, bookmarking or finishing a book and the site does the rest.
I was looking for a project over Christmas and I wanted to add my reading to this self-measurement trend and generate some stats for my book habits. As bkkeepr had recently gained an API this eventually led to me building the velocity of reading.
If you use bkkeepr then head on over to the site and enter your username, it'll grab your recent reading from the API, look up the number of pages for each book with Amazon's API and spit back some graphs and stats on your reading. If not, here are my stats and graphs...
Reading velocity for tristanf
Over 228 days you read 19 books with 6722 pages in total.
There was an average of 353 pages per book.
That's about 29 pages per day (or 1.22 pages per hour).
First there are some stats, then a graph showing progress through each of your books, where each "tooth" in the graph is one book, followed by a graph showing your total cumulative reading. The gradient of the graph lines is the reading velocity - in pages per second. I've got quite neat reading habits, tending to read one book after another, others don't. I also only started using bkkeepr's bookmark feature during the site development. A physical bookmark still works for me.
There are a few limitations. The app is relatively complex because bkkeepr, and the data it produces, is pretty freeform. bkkeepr doesn't do any validation, or allow editing of your list, so people sometimes finish books before they start them, bookmark them in random orders or accidentally add books when they get the Twitter syntax wrong (guilty!). So there's a lot of error handling. The site is built with the Google App Engine and the Google Chart API. So, the main restrictions...
- The books graph and the statistics ignore unfinished books, the cumulative graph includes them.
- The app ignores bookmarks that aren't in page order.
- If the book isn't found in Amazon's API then I give it an estimated number of pages (350 - the average pages per book from my recent reading) and it probably won't have a title.
- The app only deals with the last 20 books you've read - this is mainly due to a restriction in Google charts.
Don't take it too seriously - as one of my colleagues said, "that's not really the point of reading books, is it?"