23 March 2007


One of the cool things about literature is that the majority of books don't really compete with each other, even within the same genre. They compliment each other.

For example, when Harry Potter books sell like crazy, Jo Rowling isn't taking away sales of other Young Adult Magical Fantasy titles... Her success actually increases interest in "books that are like Harry Potter."

This is not a new phenomenon, and Amazon.com's recommendation engine is just an automated, wisdom-of-crowds version of the librarian or book shop owner who used to tell us "Oh, if you liked that book, you'll really like this one..."

Yeah, I know some authors are in anguish if they aren't #1 on this best selling list or that one. No doubt some even think mean thoughts about any author who dares to sell more books than they do, but I imagine they are in the minority. Smart authors recognize that when "competing" books in their genre sell well, it helps stimulate interest in the genre as a whole. Readers finish a book they enjoyed and look around for more of the same.

Unlike coffee. When I drink a really good cup of coffee (like Ethiopian Harrar from CoffeeFool.com), it makes me want other coffee brands less. But when I read Harry Potter, it makes me want to read other books more.

I just think that's cool.


Kim said...

So true. I'm very likely to head to the library or bookstore after finishing a good book!

Mark said...

This post spawned an interesting (though not fully formed) train of thought for me...

If I try x and I like it, then at my next opportunity to acquire x, am I more likely to stick with the exact same thing (competitive, rated 0), or to try a different version of x (cooperative, rated 10)?

Books - 9
TV shows - 8
Restaurants - 7
Groceries - 3
Clothing - 5
Music - 9.5
Automobiles - 2
Travel - 8
Airlines - 2

Just some thoughts, not necessarily useful, except maybe in Marketing. :)

Dan said...

Interesting idea - I like it!