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The Effect of Word of Mouth on Sales: Online Book Reviews


  • Judith A. Chevalier
  • Dina Mayzlin


We examine the effect of consumer reviews on relative sales of books on and We find that 1) reviews are overwhelmingly positive at both sites, but there are more reviews and longer reviews at, 2) an improvement in a book's reviews leads to an increase in relative sales at that site, and 3) the impact of 1-star reviews is greater than the impact of 5-star reviews. The results suggest that new forms of customer communication on the Internet have an important impact on customer behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Judith A. Chevalier & Dina Mayzlin, 2003. "The Effect of Word of Mouth on Sales: Online Book Reviews," NBER Working Papers 10148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10148
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Clay, Karen & Krishnan, Ramayya & Wolff, Eric, 2001. "Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 521-539, December.
    2. Glenn Ellison & Drew Fudenberg, 1995. "Word-of-Mouth Communication and Social Learning," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 93-125.
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    5. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zakaria Babutsidze, 2012. "If you love it I'll probably hate it : local interaction among consumers of information goods," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2012-24, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    2. Beck, Jonathan, 2008. "Diderot´s rule," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Competition and Innovation SP II 2008-13, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    3. Joe Cox & Daniel Kaimann, 2013. "The Signaling Effect of Critics - Evidence from a Market for Experience Goods," Working Papers CIE 68, Paderborn University, CIE Center for International Economics.
    4. David Godes & Dina Mayzlin & Yubo Chen & Sanjiv Das & Chrysanthos Dellarocas & Bruce Pfeiffer & Barak Libai & Subrata Sen & Mengze Shi & Peeter Verlegh, 2005. "The Firm's Management of Social Interactions," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 415-428, December.
    5. Jonathan Beck, 2007. "The sales effect of word of mouth: a model for creative goods and estimates for novels," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 31(1), pages 5-23, March.
    6. Alexia Gaudeul, 2010. "Software marketing on the Internet: the use of samples and repositories," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 259-281.
    7. William N. Goetzmann & Vicente Pons-Sanz & S. Abraham Ravid, 2004. "Soft Information, Hard Sell: The Role of Soft Information in the Pricing of Intellectual Property," NBER Working Papers 10468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. John Ashworth & Bruno Heyndels & Kristien Werck, 2010. "Expert judgements and the demand for novels in Flanders," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 34(3), pages 197-218, August.
    9. Mark Bowden & Stuart McDonald, 2008. "The Impact of Interaction and Social Learning on Aggregate Expectations," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 31(3), pages 289-306, April.
    10. Goknil N. Kocak & N. Serdar Sever, 2011. "Should I Take It or Should I Not? Exploration of Students’ Course Choice as a Product," International Review of Management and Marketing, Econjournals, vol. 1(1), pages 1-7, April.
    11. Caroline Elliott & Rob Simmons, 2008. "Determinants of UK Box Office Success: The Impact of Quality Signals," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 33(2), pages 93-111, September.
    12. Enrico Moretti, 2011. "Social Learning and Peer Effects in Consumption: Evidence from Movie Sales," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(1), pages 356-393.
    13. Tucker, Catherine & Zhang, Juanjuan, 2007. "Long Tail or Steep Tail? A Field Investigation into How Online Popularity Information Affects the Distribution of Customer Choices," Working papers 39811, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    14. Jehoshua Eliashberg & Anita Elberse & Mark A.A.M. Leenders, 2006. "The Motion Picture Industry: Critical Issues in Practice, Current Research, and New Research Directions," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(6), pages 638-661, 11-12.
    15. Robert E. Krider & Tieshan Li & Yong Liu & Charles B. Weinberg, 2005. "The Lead-Lag Puzzle of Demand and Distribution: A Graphical Method Applied to Movies," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(4), pages 635-645, April.
    16. Daniel Kaimann & Joe Cox, 2014. "The Interaction of Signals: A Fuzzy set Analysis of the Video Game Industry," Working Papers CIE 84, Paderborn University, CIE Center for International Economics.
    17. Sharma, Dheeraj & Verma, Varsha, 2014. "Consumers' Need for Uniqueness: A Cross-Cultural Validation," IIMA Working Papers WP2014-03-20, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.
    18. Neeraj Arora & Xavier Dreze & Anindya Ghose & James Hess & Raghuram Iyengar & Bing Jing & Yogesh Joshi & V. Kumar & Nicholas Lurie & Scott Neslin & S. Sajeesh & Meng Su & Niladri Syam & Jacquelyn Thom, 2008. "Putting one-to-one marketing to work: Personalization, customization, and choice," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 305-321, December.

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    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L8 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services

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