Does an award negatively affect a book?

cattonResearch has found  that a book read after winning a prestigious award will likely be judged more negatively than if it’s read in its pre-award days.

“The Paradox of Publicity: How Awards Can Negatively Affect the Evaluation of Quality,” is to be published in the March issue of Administrative Science Quarterly. Researchers Amanda Sharkey and colleague Balázs Kovács of the University of Lugano analysed thousands of reader reviews of 32 pairs of . One book in each pair had won an award – like the Booker Prize, National Book Award or PEN/Faulkner Award – while the other book had been nominated but hadn’t won.

“We found that winning a prestigious prize in the literary world seems to go hand-in-hand with a particularly sharp reduction in ratings of perceived quality,” Sharkey says.

The researchers theorize that a book’s audience increases considerably after an award is announced, as do the diversity and personal tastes of readers. Therefore, a larger sampling of readers is drawn to a prize-winning book, not because of any intrinsic personal interest in the book, but because it has an award attached to it.

To test this theory, Sharkey and Kovács created “predicted” ratings for each book based on the readers’ past ratings of books in the same genre. They then studied the how a book’s predicted ratings change after an award is announced by comparing earlier predicted ratings to post-announcement predicted ratings.

They found that before an award is announced, the predicted ratings of a book about to win are equivalent to the ratings of a book about to lose. But after an award is announced, that shifts and award-winning books have lower predicted ratings than books that don’t win.

“This is direct evidence that prizewinning books tend to attract new readers who wouldn’t normally read and like this particular type of book,” Sharkey says.

These results are likely applicable to other media, including film, according to the researchers. “The types of movies that win Oscars may be very different from the types of movies we watch and like during the nine months of the year when it’s not awards season,” says Sharkey.
Read more at:

National Book Awards – some American literature

image-medium (45)The National Book Awards is run by the National Book Foundation in the USA. The Fiction, Non Fiction, Young People’s and Poetry awards have been announced!

The fiction winner is the Good Lord Bird by James McBride. We don’t have all these in stock (links when we do have them) but reserve them if there are ones you’d like to read


Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers  Interview >

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland  – Interview >

Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA)

George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House) – Interview >


  • Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin – Interview >
  • Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields- Interview >
  • Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832- Interview >
  • Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief – Interview >

POETRY WINNER: Mary Szybist, Incarnadine: Poems (Graywolf Press) – Interview >


  • Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) – Interview >
  • Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion (Alfred A. Knopf) – Interview >
  • Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke (Penguin Poets/Penguin Group USA) – Interview >
  • Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture (Louisiana State University Press) – Interview >

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE WINNER: Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck – Interview >


What’s on the Waterstone’s Book of the Year list?

beaThis year’s Waterstone’s shortlist – the winner will be announced on Tuesday 3rd December, includes a wide variety of writing talent and includes  début graphic novelist Stephen Collins who finds himself head-to-head with more well known literary figures Kate Atkinson and Julian Barnes, all competing for the title of Waterstone’s Book of the Year 2013.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, is a critically acclaimed pencil-drawn fairytale for adults, The other contenders are in it for – Kate Atkinson, her novel Life After Lifewhose protagonist has the opportunity to live her life again and again in a bid to get it right. Julain Barnes former Man Booker Prize-winner whose Levels of Life, is a blend of essay, fiction and memoir dealing with the death of his beloved wife, and it represents his most personal work to date.

Two of the books in contention are written by authors from overseas: Mapsan illustrated map of the world by Polish husband-and-wife team Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński; and the 1965 novel Stoner, by the late American author John Williams. This had been one of the most talked about books of the year, with Ian McEwan, Bret Easton Ellis and Tom Hanks amongst its high-profile admirers .

Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life, Nina Stibbe’s completes the shortlist. This is a ‘charming collection of letters home to her sister, describing her trials and triumphs as a working-class nanny to a well-heeled London family’.

Waterstones booksellers across the country nominated the book they thought deserved the title of Book of the Year. They were asked to choose a book that stood out in its field, and that would speak to the company’s core customers – those people who love reading and that love books.

‘We have enjoyed another year of extraordinary publishing with our booksellers championing a great array of titles.” said Waterstones Managing Director James Daunt. “As you would expect, they have selected an eclectic and surprising shortlist for our Book of the Year, all fabulous books that are distinctively inspiring and which I am sure will provoke as much passionate interest from our customers as they already have from our booksellers.’