Biology May Determine How Quickly You Give Up on a Book

Do men have the most reading stamina? Or is it women who can really buckle down and make it to the last page?

Jellybooks wanted to find out whether the decision to finish reading a book is gender-driven in any way. Would women be more likely to put down a book when their busy lives got in the way, or would men? Which gender would stay the course and make it to that last page? The results were sure to be interesting, one way or the other.

By inserting a small piece of JavaScript in ebooks, the company was able to track exactly when readers finish or abandon any ebook that they started. The site solicited volunteers for the experiment, offering them free access to books in return for having their reading habits tracked.

What they found out was surprising. for starters, it turns out that women do, in fact, read more than men.

Men also give up on a book far earlier than women. However, the percentage of men and women who start a book and then actually finish it is equal.

While gender doesn’t affect completion rates, information about the book itself does, including the characters, subject matter and writing style.

The findings held true across genres as well, with men and women making it to the end of literary fiction, crime stories, fantasy, sci-fi and nonfiction all at a rate of about 28 percent. There was a difference, though, with romance novels and books that “deal with feelings.” Men were not only less likely to pick up these books in the first place, but were less likely to finish them than women too.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the reading habits of men and women came in how quickly each sex puts down a book that they don’t find interesting.

Men are much quicker to give up on a book than women are; an author trying to appeal to a male audience has only 20 to 50 pages to convince readers to keep reading. If the reader is a woman, the author has a little more time to hook her. The Jellybooks researchers suspect that this might be either because women tend to keep reading even if they’ve already decided they don’t like a book, or because men are better at predicting if a book they’ve started is up their alley.Although the Jellybooks study didn’t find any difference between the completion rates for fiction and nonfiction, there are other differences between the typical readers of the two genres. If you’re an avid fiction reader, take a look at what that fact says about you.