The Wonderful World of Amazon Text Stats

After a number of years, has discovered that its huge database of books, CDs and DVDs can be a source of fun info, especially for books whose entire text is searchable.
One such feature is Text Stats, which offers interesting tidbits about a specific book (if it has Search Inside! functionality). You can access Text Stats by hovering over the cover of the book you're looking at.
The first interesting feature are the readability indexes. Various wise people have created formulae to measure how easy to read a book is. As the statistics show, they haven't always succeeded. The Fog index indicates the number of years of education needed to read the text. The higher the Flesch index, the more readable the text. The Flesch-Kincaid index represents a US school grade level required to read the text.

Goodnight Moon
the famous children's book
Joyce's huge masterpiece
The Hacker Crackdown
a nonfiction book about the hacker community
Das Kapital
Karl Marx' most important work
Aspects of the Theory of Syntax
Noam Chomsky's book, which launched modern linguistics

So apparently, you need to be a ninth-grader to read 'Goodnight Moon', but you can read 'Ulysses' before that. Riiight. The other figures also don't make much sense. The implication of these statistics is that nonfiction prose is harder to read than fiction.
On to the 'Words per Dollar' feature. These figures are less surprising, but not less interesting:
  • The Bible: 48,284
  • Who Moved My Cheese: 884
  • Goodnight Moon: 16
So for real inspiration, don't reach for the Cool Book ('Who Moved My Cheese' is an, um, cheesy little management book that Dilbert's Pointy-Haired Boss has on his desk); reach for the Good Book.

Posted by cronopio at 01:25 PM, December 16, 2005