Beeminder Forum

Beeminding book reading

I set up a goal to beemind the books I read, and so far it worked really well.
The quantity to be monitored is the amount of pages read per day; this is a good approach with paper books.

I’d like to be able to do the same with ebooks as well. However, the kindle does not show the actual page count, but the percentage of book read.
How can I make the goal work even with this difference?


This Amazon thread might be helpful.


Set up an odometer goal which is the percentage of book read.

You’ll need to adjust your road depending on the length of each book.
Set your road rate to: 100 * (number of pages to read per day) / (length of book in pages)

Assume you would want to read 10 pages a day, you then look up the book on Amazon and see how many pages the print version has. Let’s say it was 500. 100 * 10 / 500 = 2 . Set your road to 2 (percent) per day.

Or you could just Beemind the time spent reading. You should be able to estimate how long it takes you to read n pages. Which has the advantage that it will be constant per book, but won’t let you know when you’re going to finish the book you’re reading.

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I’ve been beeminding book reading about 6 months now. I’ve tried various schemes but beeminding time is 110% the best of them. Anything else creates perverse incentives to choose easier books.

I use tagtime for this but am resigned to the fact that nobody else thinks it’s a good idea :smile:


I have been tracking how many words I read.

I want to track something that I can measure without too much difficulty for both physical and digital books, and it should be general so I can (more or less) compare a small book with large text and a large book with small text.

For physical books I estimate the number of words on a typical page before I start reading, and then I just multiply. For ebooks I can generally just mark the text that I have read and share or copy it to a word counting app to get the exact word count. (I use an android tablet)

Apparently some Kindle ebooks has limits on how much of a book you can copy within a certain amount of time, (eg. 10% of a book per day or something) but I haven’t had serious problems with that yet. I have read somewhere that a kindle position corresponds to 128 bytes of text, so maybe we can figure out a typical conversion rate between positions and words. It would depend on the encoding, but I already have word counts for 1½ kindle ebooks, so I can probably get a decent estimate.

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I have been beeminding kindle positions read so far - at least the kindle apps I use (I don’t have an actual Kindle) do show you how many kindle positions your are into the book, then I just note where I start and end and that is that.

I deliberately didn’t go for an odometer goal, because the kindle positions didn’t start on 0 (or 1) and I wanted the freedom to read books in parallel, rather than serially which an odometer goal doesn’t support.


I’ve tried out pages and time. Time worked better. Pages encouraged me to charge through books without doing other things, like taking notes or doing the exercises. I recently gave up on a page-based goal because it was messing with my reading experience.

Time also supports Taleb style pile-reading (he would switch books the moment he got bored, and attempted to read for sixty hours like this in his teens.)

The only sort-of page based reading goal I have left is for the Read More Or Die (多読) contest. I’m not doing that great there, and just derailed again the other day…


Thanks everybody for the good suggestions!
Actually I needed to get familiar with the kindle interface to see that the count of positions is available tapping on the top of tha page.

So far, I’m happy with the page count rather than the time spent reading, and I really think that the choice between the two methods is a matter of personal preference.


I’m with you on pages vs. time. If I track time (which I did before beeminder) my ADHD takes over and I end up thinking of other things and getting no reading done.

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This is where tagtime is helpful. The tag is only applicable if I’m actually focused on the reading. If I’m staring out the window or similar then it doesn’t count.


I read on my laptop with RescueTime measuring time read on iBooks. Since it monitors inactivity it keeps me honest, but it has the downside of being on the computer and not a kindle or iPad or other smaller device.


Is there a mobile app that will keep a time record of book reading?

I’d like to automate data entry for book reading. The only solution is to use RescueTime on Android which can track time spent by application. I could assign Kindle under it’s own subcategory under “Reference & Learning”,but Beeminder doesn’t support creating a goal for a sub-category.

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I just click start on the beeminder timer for my reading goal, open my reading app, (or in this case an audiobook app) do my reading and then stop the timer when I’m done. :smile:


@quintrino that suggests that you are focused on reading all the time until you stop the timer. I’m not that focused most of the time… :slight_smile:

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It’s self improvement books and I have to take notes for anki, so I guess I’m focused most of the time. :slight_smile:


While you can’t beemind subcategories from Rescuetime, you can beemind specific activities from it.

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You can Beemind one kind of “sub-category” on RescueTime: the Miscellaneous category, which I think RescueTime keeps empty by default. Put the activities you want to Beemind into that category, and you’ll be able to Beemind it. I called my sub-category “Beeminder Sins”. :smile:

The disadvantage of this method is that you can only use it for one Beeminder goal. There’s no other empty RescueTime category besides Miscellaneous. Choose wisely!

If you want to Beemind pages on your e-reader, you could always find out the page-length of the book on Goodreads, and then multiply that by your percentage read. So if you’re 20% of the way through the book, and the physical book is 500 pages long according to Goodreads, then that would be (500 * 0.20) = 100 pages.


Kindle books now seem to report ‘actual’ page numbers, not just ‘positions’. Makes mixing paper and electronic books a lot easier from a beeminding perspective.

I seem to track reading & notes-from-reading in a few different ways:

  • number of pages read (do more, script)
  • progress through il nome della rosa (odometer, script)
  • anki notes created (odometer, autodata)
  • days on which I read and made notes from something (do more, manual)
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I prefer to track time spent reading. I found that some of what I read is extremely easy to digest and flies by, but most of what I read requires a greater length of time, and that variation could be unpredictable. It also incentivized me to prefer flying through readings over taking the time needed. Beeminding time spent works better for me this way, ma,I got it easier to plan, and also not working counter my actual goals because of the way they’re tracked. (Though, I’m talking about academic reading, as I haven’t Beeminded personal reading, so maybe this isn’t as useful for personal reading.)


I haven’t found a time-spent solution that works for me, Beeminder-wise. Timers I usually forget to stop, and TagTime’s random pings are hell for me on beemergency days.

But I whole-heartedly agree that counting pages can result in too-fast reading without comprehension. My last two items combat that somewhat, since they measure the tangible output of thinking about what I’ve read.

On the input side of the equation, my page count goals are conservative, plus auto-ratchet (my favourite premium feature). On days when my head’s not in the game or the material is dense, reading fewer pages is sufficient to meet the goal. On days when it’s easy, the auto-ratchet keeps me from building up unhelpful amounts of safety-buffer.

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