I have this app I am making that seeks to quantify a user's book reading patterns based on what the users input themselves. it records how many pages they read (for physical books) or CDs listened to or tapes and so on.. I was observing the values of the database, and it struck me when i saw the values of under "downloaded audio":

Currently i placed in the app "minutes of audio" however, i found out that the data the user is putting there is not minutes (too short for minutes), but rather "file parts" - which is totally insignificant since a "part" could be a chunk of two-hour audio or a bunch of "snack-sized" 20-minute audio.

what would be the best way to quantify downloaded audio which:

  • makes sense/be significant
  • at the same time won't "harass" the user into calculation.
  • 1
    What is the current label on the field? Better, could you please attach a screenshot of the form?
    – dnbrv
    Mar 3, 2012 at 18:51

2 Answers 2


Asking users to input that manually seems unrealistic. I read a lot, both for school and for pleasure. I also listen to many audiobooks and lectures. I couldn't tell you offhand how many minutes long a book I listened to recently was, or the exact number of pages I read. I would probably skip filling that out every time. If I was forced, I'd feel irritated, and would likely try to input some bogus information.

When it comes to digital files, you could find out the answer pretty easily. I currently use iTunes, and it tracks when I last played a file, how much of the file I played, etc. The Kindle also remembers which page I accessed last so I assume that's stored in a file somewhere. I'd be happy to share that data if sharing it benefited me in some way.

Paper books are more difficult. However, although I often couldn't tell you the page number, I can more frequently remember my overall progress (25% finished, half finished, etc) which can be translated into pages. If you know a book is 500 pages and the person says they're 25% finished, just run a calculation on that and figure out the approximate page.

I don't think it's a bad idea to have a way to input a specific page number for people who do remember and want to do that. However, I use goodreads.com currently... the only option is to enter a specific page number, and since I rarely know what that is, I don't use it. I don't care enough to walk across the room and find the book and look for the bookmark and realize I have to flip through the book to figure it out, etc.

People who don't read much might have an easier time estimating their durations. But going through 20 books / audiobooks and manually figuring out exactly where I am in each book sounds like a chore. If your tool is intended for people who don't read regularly, it'd only require occasional effort. But I'm a student, so I read large amounts daily from a variety of different books and it'd quickly get confusing and frustrating.

My preference would be sharing my data. Apart from that, I'd be more likely to use a tool where I click "start timer" the moment I start reading and "end" when I'm finished. It couldn't track my page count in a paper book, but it could get an idea of the duration. If I estimated the amount completed later, it could start comparing that to the duration and getting an idea of how many pages I usually read in an hour, etc.

  • this app is separate from iTunes and other programs so i can't really tap into them. Good point though about being irritated. it does get tedious to record a lot of these things
    – Joseph
    Mar 12, 2012 at 21:12

You might have to come up with a heuristic of your own, which covers the following things:

  • File size
  • File type

If the part-info which the user is providing, is with a valid extension and you can estimate its size, you can come with an approximate value of the equivalent in the physical form(the book or the audio). I hope the following links might be helpful in your research:

  1. Samples of Different Storage formats and their equivalent sizes(physical and logical)
  2. File-type signatures

It seems you might have to do some hit and trial with a sample data so that the end-user does not do any calculations and gets a fitting approximation to what you are trying to achieve. :-)

You can use ffmpeg to convert one media format to another.

  • 1
    What are you talking about? The OP is asking of a way to ensure that end-users report the correct value.
    – dnbrv
    Mar 3, 2012 at 18:50
  • i wanted to know in what way can i have significant count on downloaded audio based on user input. the user won't be uploading files nor will i use the files they have. if they did, it would be easier to get the files' meta data.
    – Joseph
    Mar 3, 2012 at 22:16

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