Earlier this month (Dec 1, 2015), Goodreads (the social media 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. Those are Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” and Paula Hawkins’ “Girl on the Train”.
In an earlier blog, I looked at how this affected Harper Lee’s recently discovered (and published) novel “Go Set a Watchman”. It received a sales bump, which has attenuated by now (Dec 16), but its rank is still higher than it was before receiving the award. In this blog, I will update those results. I will look at what has happened to the other book in question, The Girl on the Train, in a forthcoming blog, probably next week.
As you can see in the updated graph, the ranking bump is still there, but it is considerably diminished, with Watchman back up to the 300th rank by Dec 18, (the last day of the time series). It is still ahead of its pre-award baseline of about rank 500, but not by all that much. So, the bump from winning the Goodreads award isn’t a long-lasting one. Note that the inverse scale of ranks always makes an improvement look like a drop, so the graph moves opposite to normal expectations, where improving in a measure generally means an increasing line in a graph.
We can estimate sales from rank, using the Rank:Sales power law, as crowdsourced by “Data Guy” and Hugh Howie. This is only an approximation to the actual situation, but it is still illlustrative. The second graph shows that. As you can see, the bump to about 5000 copies per day from the other day has now dropped to 300 or so per day, which is only about 100 or so per day more than the numbers prior to the Goodreads award. That’s easier to see on the logarithmic scaled graph, also shown.
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. Generally speaking, it seems like about 1 copy per one hundred bought, is ultimately reviewed (that may vary from about 0.5% to 2%, though). But that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
We do see a review bump, in the third graph, but it seems to have died out rather quickly. Assuming a 1% review rate, we would expect to eventually see about 200 or so reviews from the bump in sales. Arguably, we can see about 50 or 60 additonal reviews in the graph, so most of the review bump is still to come.
Previous evidence has indicated that most reviews seem to occur within about a month of sales (see my blog about “The Da Vinci Code” for details. So far, Watchman doesn’t seem to be following that pattern.
Perhaps this indicates that a lot of the sales are gift sales, or “to be read” at a much later date. Maybe sales bumps motivated by awards are like that. Alternatively, Christmas may be causing a delay in reviews – we would expect that Christmas book gifts will have more of a time lag between purchase and review, than books purchased by the intended reader. Indeed, as we all know from personal experience, some gift books are never read at all, let alone reviewed. Time will tell.
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:
Amazon U.S.: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RAWMO32
Amazon U.K.: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00RAWMO32
Amazon Canada: http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B00RAWMO32
Amazon Germany: http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B00RAWMO32