The Ulysses of e-books is… July 8, 2014 – Posted in: Content, Reading / Literacy


unfinshed ebooks

It is called the Hawking Index (HI) and it uses data from Amazon to determine which e-books are the most unfinished.  

The lighthearted study devised by Jordan Ellenberg, a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, works like this:

Take the page numbers of a book’s five top highlights, average them, and divide by the number of pages in the whole book.

The higher the number, the more of the book we’re guessing most people are likely to have read. 

The classic of this genre and the namesake of the index is Stephen Hawking‘s A Brief History of Time, widely called “the most unread book of all time.”

Though from the looks of it Hawking is seriously being challenged by Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. With a rating of only 2.4% Ellenberg says “Yes, it came out just three months ago. But the contest isn’t even close. Mr. Piketty’s book is almost 700 pages long, and the last of the top five popular highlights appears on page 26. Stephen Hawking is off the hook; from now on, this measure should be known as the Piketty Index.”

For a little context Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Goldfinch came in at a whopping 98.5% with “all five top highlights come from the final 20 pages.” 




Remember these are for e-books only and I trust neither will seriously challenge the reigning champion of the print world, Ulysses, for quite some time.

Ellenberg at WSJ:  The Summer’s Most Unread Book Is… 

slideshow of the books featured at The Independent 

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