Friday, 4 December 2015

Go Set a Watchman - The Sales Bump from Goodreads #1 Readers’ Choice Award

Earlier this week, Goodreads (the social median site for book discussions, reviews, etc) announced the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards.  A couple of books that were chosen by Goodreads members as #1 in their categories happened to be books that I have been following closely, for much of this year.  One of particular interest is Harper Lee’s recently discovered (and published) novel “Go Set a Watchman”, which is covers the same ground as “To Kill a Mockingbird”, but is set several decades in the future.

I was surprised by Watchman’s big ranking improvement on Amazon, when I saw it on Tuesday morning.  You can see that in the accompanying graph, though due to the inverse scale of ranks, it shows up as a sudden drop in the graph (the red line, with circles).  To Kill a Mockingbird also had a rank improvement, likely as a result of it’s “sister book” hitting #1 on Goodreads, sparking interest in it as well.  That’s the much smaller drop in the blue line with diamonds, in the graph.

We can estimate sales from rank, using the Rank:Sales power law, as crowd-sourced by “Data Guy” and Hugh Howie.  This is only an approximation to the actual situation, but it is still illustrative.  The second graph shows that.  This week, Watchman has probably been selling about 5000 copies a day this week, rather than the 200 or so per day that it had been selling in the recent past (remember, these are just Amazon numbers).  It should be interesting to see how long the Goodreads bump lasts.

Since the sales increase is so recent, we can’t reasonably expect an immediate sizeable increase in reviews – it takes some time to read and review a book.  Nonetheless, we do see the beginning of a review bump, in the third graph.  It should be interesting to follow this phenomenon, as this constitutes a natural experiment, where we should be able to see a nice lagged correlation between the sudden increase in sales and a subsequent increase in reviews.

  I have also been following one of the other Goodreads Award winners, "The Girl on the Train".   It has also recieved some boost in ranking, but not as dramatic as the one seen by "Go Set a Watchman".  I will blog about that one later, probably.


And here is the call to action.  We don't have anything of quite the significance of Harper Lee's work, so I will just give some links to last year's Christmas story by Helena Puumala, "A Christmas Miracle at the Lake".  It's a short story of about 10,000 words, concerning a troubled family and a marvelous Christmas visit:

Helena's Christmas story for this year is called "Miranda and the Not-Christmas Elf", and will be published before this Christmas.  It's a heart-warming Christmas story that can be enjoyed by both children and adults.

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