Experts’ Awards and Economic Success: Evidence from an Italian Literary Prize
Product quality is often unobservable ex-ante and consumers rely on experts’ judgments, sometimes coming under the form of ratings or awards. Do awards affect consumers’ choices or they are conferred to the most popular products? To disentangle this issue, we use data of the most important Italian Literary Prize, the “Strega Prize”, undertaking two different estimation strategies to evaluate the impact on book sales of being awarded the Prize. First, we adopt a Regression Discontinuity Design using as dependent variable a measure of book sales and as forcing variable (proxying for intrinsic book quality) the jury votes received by each nominated book in the competition. We find a very strong impact of the Strega Prize on sales. Second, using weekly data on appearances in bestseller lists, we estimate a difference-in-differences model, comparing sales performance of treated and control books before the award is conferred with their respective performance afterwards. The results confirm a huge influence of the Prize on book sales and show that most of the impact occurs in the weeks following the announcement.
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