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Books Math Entertainment

Algorithm Aims To Predict Fiction Bestsellers 146

benonemusic writes "Three computer scientists at Stony Brook University in New York believe they have found some rules through a computer program that might predict which fiction books will be successful. Their algorithm had as much as an 84 percent accuracy rate when applied to already published manuscripts in Project Gutenberg and other sources. Among their findings was that more successful books relied on verbs describing thought processes rather than actions and emotions. However, some disagree with the findings. Author Ron Hansen said style is not the key, but instead readers' interest in the topics in the book." There has been work done already on finding the formula for a hit song, and using analytics to craft a blockbuster movie.
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Algorithm Aims To Predict Fiction Bestsellers

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  • Reading Level (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @12:30AM (#45904325) Journal

    They began their research with Project Gutenberg, a database of 44,500 books in the public domain. A book was considered successful when it was critically acclaimed and had a high download count. The books chosen for analysis represented all genres of literature, from science fiction to poetry.

    Then, they added some books not in the Gutenberg database, including Charles Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities," and Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." They also added Dan Brown's latest novel, "The Lost Symbol," and books that have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and other awards.

    Nowadays, marketing and signalling has as much to do with sales as anything else.
    I imagine that if some publisher could make the kind of advertising push that Bill O'Reilley does,
    they could put anything onto the NYTimes best seller list too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09, 2014 @01:40AM (#45904531)

    Don't forget: Successful books relied on:

    verbs describing


    All this time I thought adjectives described. Silly me. No wonder my great novel failed.

    If that's what you thought then yes, that's probably one of your problems. Compare the following sentences:
    "He pitched the ball."
    "He hurled the ball."
    "He tossed the ball."
    "He lobbed the ball."
    "He chucked the ball."

    Where's the adjective to describe the manner in which the ball moved? There isn't one. The verb gives you the description of HOW the ball moved.
    In direct contradiction to this "algorithm", stronger writers tend to rely more on descriptive verbs, weaker writers tend to rely on less descriptive words which need to be padded with adjectives or adverbs.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie