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What makes a critic tick? Connected authors and the determinants of book reviews

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  • Dobrescu, Loretti I.
  • Luca, Michael
  • Motta, Alberto

Abstract

This paper investigates the determinants of expert reviews in the book industry. Reviews are determined not only by the quality of the product but also by the incentives of the media outlet providing the review. For example, a media outlet may have the incentive to provide favorable coverage to certain authors or to slant reviews toward the horizontal preferences of certain readers. Empirically, we find that an author's connection to the media outlet is related to the outcome of the review decision. When a book's author also writes for a media outlet, that outlet is 25% more likely to review the book relative to other media outlets, and the resulting ratings are roughly 5% higher. Prima facie, it is unclear whether media outlets are favoring their own authors because these are the authors that their readers prefer or simply because they are trying to collude. We provide a test to distinguish between these two potential mechanisms, and present evidence that this is because of tastes rather than collusion – the effect of connections is present both for authors who began writing for a media outlet before and after the book release. We then investigate other determinants of expert reviews. Both consumers and expert reviewers seem to favor authors who have won book prizes. Yet relative to consumer reviews, professional critics are less favorable to first time authors and more favorable to authors who have garnered other attention in the press (as measured by number of media mentions outside of the review).

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268113002084
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 96 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 85-103

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:96:y:2013:i:c:p:85-103

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Expert reviews; Conflict of interest; Information; Consumer reviews;

References

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  1. Michaely, Roni & Womack, Kent L, 1999. "Conflict of Interest and the Credibility of Underwriter Analyst Recommendations," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(4), pages 653-86.
  2. Laffont & Martimort, 1997. "Collusion under asymmetric information," Working Papers 152574, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  3. Jonah B. Gelbach & Doug Miller, 2009. "Robust Inference with Multi-way Clustering," Working Papers 99, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
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  5. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2008. "What's in a name? Anonymity and social distance in dictator and ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-35, October.
  6. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
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  8. Jean-Jacques LAFFONT & Jean TIROLE, 1990. "The Politics of Government Decision-Making : a Theory of Regulatory Capture," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 9004, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  9. Dina Mayzlin & Yaniv Dover & Judith A. Chevalier, 2012. "Promotional Reviews: An Empirical Investigation of Online Review Manipulation," NBER Working Papers 18340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Holbrook, Morris B, 1999. " Popular Appeal versus Expert Judgments of Motion Pictures," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 144-55, September.
  11. Peter Boatwright & Suman Basuroy & Wagner Kamakura, 2007. "Reviewing the reviewers: The impact of individual film critics on box office performance," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 401-425, December.
  12. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-94, July.
  13. Monic Sun, 2012. "How Does the Variance of Product Ratings Matter?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(4), pages 696-707, April.
  14. Jonah Berger & Alan T. Sorensen & Scott J. Rasmussen, 2010. "Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: When Negative Reviews Increase Sales," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(5), pages 815-827, 09-10.
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