One of the Kindle Touch updates included a "Time-to-Read" feature. It seems to be based loosely on how fast I turn the page. I usually turn back to the cover when I start reading a new book and flip back to the start of the introduction or first chapter. So the status usually says 1 min left in chapter for a chapter or two. I'm guessing the algorithm has determined that I have super-human reading speed. Once I prove I don't, it becomes fairly accurate.

But other times I sit on a page for several minutes when distracted by other things. I would have assumed the calculation would show me taking much longer to finish chapters after doing that. However, the reading time seems to be stable and fairly accurate after the initial weirdness.

How does the algorithm work and why does each book have its own estimate?

1 Answer 1


Basically, they have no limit on how fast someone could actually read (supporting speed readers) but they do have a limit on how slow someone can read. That is, if someone takes 30 seconds to read a page, they will add that to their calculations, but if someone takes 5 minutes to read a page but only 20 seconds to read other pages then ignore the 5 minute exception.

This is not surprising since people will often put a book (electronic or paper) down while they do something else, then return to it. For this reason, they really need a maximum time per page.

As far as different books requiring different estimates, different books have different readability levels. If I read a book on leadership, I tend to read it quite quickly because I've already digested so much content on the topic. However, when I read a book on coding neural networks, I read much more slowly. My slowness on complex topics which I have little experience with does not mean that I am slower at reading other books/topics.

  • 5
    This is a plausible answer. Do you happen to have an sources for the limit on slow reading? I was hoping for something like an official source. Dec 19, 2013 at 0:21
  • 1
    No official source. I figured it out through my own testing.
    – John
    Dec 19, 2013 at 2:41
  • 2
    If you feel like doing timing measurements to test the theory, I found an easy way to reset the data. If you are correct, it should be possible to reverse engineer the basic algorithm. Dec 19, 2013 at 4:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.