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Diderot's rule


  • Beck, Jonathan


The odds of success in creative industries like the book, music or movie industry are often said to be particularly low. A 1763 rule by Denis Diderot, for example, says that only one out of ten published books is a commercial success. Yet, representative evidence on new-product success rates and their development over time is scarce. Furthermore, the standard approach to use sales as success measure can be misleading from the producer's perspective. This paper presents a novel approach to empirically identify producer success by incorporating the standard terms of contract between creator and producer into a parsimonious model of information diffusion (word-of-mouth). The model is applied to a random sample of novels. Parametric and semiparametric estimates imply a success rate between 10 and 15\% for this market. Set against Diderot's rule, these results suggest that new-product success in the book industry has been fairly constant over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Beck, Jonathan, 2009. "Diderot's rule," MPRA Paper 17404, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:17404

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    New-product success; word-of-mouth; creative industries; technological change;

    JEL classification:

    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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