2014 Nebula Award Prediction: Indicator #10

This is more of a speculative indicator: surely the kind of rankings a book receives (both in terms of how many rankings and total score) gives us some indication of how it’ll do. I’m thinking specifically of the rankings on Amazon and Goodreads as solid indicators of public reaction to a text. Take a look at the Amazon ranking of Martin’s A Game of Thrones (4.4) versus A Feast for Crows (3.6). The first book is widely beloved; the fourth in his series is considered a disappointment. That’s just an example to show how different such scores can be varying on whether the book is liked or not. Presumably, a book has to be well liked to win the Nebula.

Unfortunately, there’s no historical data for this, as we can’t go back in time and see how the Nebula nominees were ranked/scored on Goodreads or Amazon when they were nominated. After the nominations–and particularly the winner–comes out, this drives new readers to the books, which taints any statistical significance those rankings might have.

Nonetheless, we can start collecting data and see if any correlation show up in future years, thus 2015 and beyond. Right now, the weight of Indicator #10 will be 0, as there is not enough data to be reliable or meaningful yet.

Goodreads and Amazon provide us with two useful reader rankings: number of rankings (showing how many people have read the book), and then an actual score (whether they liked the book). More readers + more positive reaction has to equal more wins, doesn’t it?

Indicator #10: The novel is frequently reviewed and highly scored on Goodreads and Amazon.

Let’s take a look at this year’s nominees, as of right after the nominations:
Indicator 10
Where AMZ = Amazon, and GR = Goodreads.

What does this data mean? Who knows? A couple things seem clear: the easiest way to get high scores is to not be rated much. I suspect some kind of correlation can be worked up, but we don’t have enough data to make that clear. Interestingly, our frontrunners (Gaiman and Leckie) are middle of the pack when it comes to scores, but Gaiman obviously has a clear advantage to how often his book has been read. For all we know, the most read book every year might win the Nebula. We’ll have to wait for some more years of data to see.

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