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New York Times Shelves Most Read List

April 1, 2011

The New York Times has put on hold a planned expansion of its Best Sellers pages to include "Most Read" titles, based on data compiled by, Barnes & Noble, and other providers of e-book readers.

The new lists would reveal which books are actually read, rather than merely purchased, according to earlier-announced plans. Monitoring of Kindle, Nook, Sony Readers, and other devices would produce statistics based on page views; a title would only count as being read once the reader had clicked through to the end, while spending an appropriate amount of lag time on each page.

A newspaper spokesman confirmed that the difficulty in finalizing the lists was not concern over privacy issues, but would not directly address rumors that the results themselves were too embarrassing to reveal.

"It's not just the complete absence of literary titles," said a company insider on condition of anonymity. "It's not the preponderance of genre titles -- science fiction, thrillers, romance. We're used to that from the bestseller lists. No, it's something much worse. What people actually read -- and don't read."

He refused to elaborate.

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