Is all publicity good publicity? Are all reviews—even bad ones—good for books? The answer, according to a new study [pdf] by the journal Marketing Science, depends on whether the writer is well known or unknown. The study examined the impact of a New York Times review on the sales of more than 200 hardcover titles. For books by established writers, a negative review led to a 15% decrease in sales. For unknown authors, a negative review increased sales by a healthy 45%.
“After receiving a hundred of his letters, meeting him fifteen times, either at his apartment on Bilu Street or at a Tel Aviv café, and receiving too many calls from his cell phone to ever hope to return, I gave up trying to count the number of times that Yoram Kaniuk had died.” Nicole Krauss remembers her relationship with Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk, author of The Last Jew, in her obituary for The New Yorker.
Recommended reading: Brandon Ambrosino interviews Justin Martin, author of Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians, about, well, Walt Whitman and America’s first bohemians.
Our own Emily St. John Mandel is in conversation with Laura van den Berg over at the FSG blog. “We have such a mania for classification, don’t we? Everything just seems so black-or-white, one-or-zero, genre-or-literary sometimes, and I don’t think those divisions are especially helpful.” The authors are Year in Reading alumni, and you can check out Mandel’s and van den Berg’s posts at the respective links.