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"the amount of time required to read and comprehend a book." What exactly do they mean by that? Does keeping a book open in front of the character give xp over time?
Not exactly. At lvl 1 everything you read has lots of typos to the point where you struggle to unserstand it. Higher reading lvl less typos

Some books, especially the ones related to skills require Henry to spend time reading the book to understand the contents. I assume the quote is related to that.

Near as I can tell from playing around with the reading system, if you keep reading the same book over and over again, you quit gaining xp after a while; or, at the very least it slows down substantially after a while.

I’m still playing around with it, so I’m not sure if that’s wholly accurate. I’ll try and remember to leave another reply if I get more precise info on how it all works.
I just read a skillbook, and it magically dissapered...what? did Henry eat the damn thing?
sure, i understand their reason for it, otherwise you could just buy/loot/steal a valuable book then sell it once you're done with it, but come on! the book just dissaperes!? for a game that's suppose to be super realistic, that is a new level of un-realism! even The Elder Scrolls don't take away the book, you read em, you learn something, you put em back in your inventory.
Honestly with a thing like this, Who would even read books that are worth over 500 or even 1k coins? god damn no one! they would sell those gold mines!
i srly hope they will give us the tools soon so there can be a mod (a stable mod...) that does Not make your books combust like a secret agent's mission note.
How do you actually level up reading? I've got books that I can manually read now, no "Study" option.
Some books are just "regular" books for lack of a better word. They contain either in-game lore (related to real-world lore) or just random stuff. Other books are actual "study" books which require you to spend in-game time reading to progress it to 100% read and complete that specific book. If you look at books using Q for the info, the books that you need to actually study have a meter that says 'Progress' with a 0-100% slider scale, those are the ones that will raise up your skill.

I don't know if the other non "skill" books have any other point other than adding to lore or not. Maybe they will mention things you will end up using at some point in a conversation, but that's just me guessing.
um when you sit on a chair or bed.. or even while your standing select the book you want to read .. then the wait screen will pop up. you will notice by the energy and nourishment meter that a new meter that tracks how much of the book you "comprehend" pops up. When that hits 100% you have finished the book. The book should remain in your inventory. I recommend selling it to recover some of your losses on buying it.
if the book is disappearing.. well that should be a bug..
where are the primers