Measuring the Aesthetic Success of Books: Can User-driven Databases Fill the Gap?

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Researchers that wish to evaluate the aesthetic success or functional creativity of books in the real world need a method to measure the outcome variable. However, sales figures are rarely published. Bestseller lists and expert judgments may not adequately reflect the aesthetic success among the general public. Data available on the platform Goodreads may serve as an alternative for measuring the popularity of books. In the present study, the ratings and number of ratings from Goodreads, as well as the number of literary prizes awarded are compared with the actual number of copies sold for a significant sample, the 98 most bestselling books in the UK from 1998 to 2012. Results indicated that literary prizes cannot serve as a gauge for the popularity of a book. While ratings were associated with copies sold, the number of ratings was a significantly better indicator of the sales figures of a book.

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