Maybe inspired by the Advanced Analytics project I recently finished at PagerDuty, I’ve gotten very interested recently in tracking how I spend my time.
One thing I’d like to do is track (and increase) time spent reading books and long-form articles, ideally on the Kindle to keep things distraction-free. So I wondered: “Can Kindle track how much time I spend reading?”
I found an unlikely answer in this Quora thread:
The only way I’ve found to do this is to get the latest firmware for the Kindle Paperwhite and enroll yourself in “Kindle FreeTime”. This is a program intended to restrict the content that children can read while tracking their progress. It provides reading time, books read, pages read, etc. Why this is hidden behind a feature that is 100% directed at children is unclear to me. But if you don’t mind occasionally entering a parental control password (I just set mine to a single letter) and jumping through a few hoops, I’d checkout FreeTime.
So does it work?
Yep. Following Amazon’s guide, I was able to set myself up with a FreeTime profile on the Voyage. Protip: you can take a screenshot on a kindle by tapping opposing corners of the screen at the same time. Who knew?
Set up a profile and add books to ‘your’ library
When your profile is loaded, just tap “Start” to put the Kindle into FreeTime mode.
The metrics I was looking for are all there: number of pages read and amount of time spent reading, through both a daily and monthly lens.
As a bonus, I can set a reading goal (say, 20 minutes a day), and have it automatically shown in the lower left corner of the screen.
There are downsides, though. You have to control the books available to the kid account from the parent account, which is a few extra taps. And you can only view stats from the Kindle itself– there’s no export or API endpoint. And you have to enter a password (it can be a single letter long) to get to settings:
So in conclusion, the implementation is a little weird, but by pretending to be your own parent, you can track your reading time on the Kindle.
If anybody figures out how to get at an undocumented API for this thing, ping me.