The Effect of Editorial Discretion Book Promotion on Sales at

Edelman, Benjamin. “The Effect of Editorial Discretion Book Promotion on Sales at” 2002. (Winner of Seymour E. and Ruth B. Harris Prize for outstanding senior honors thesis in economics. Winner of Thomas T. Hoopes Prize awarded for outstanding scholarly work or research.)

A new dataset collected by the author allows estimation of the effect on book sales of promotional listing on Amazon’s editorial discretion pages. Following Goolsbee and Chevalier (2001), sales quantities are inferred from sales rank data freely available on Amazon’s web site, and an automated system tracks which books are promoted when, where, and how often. The results indicate that promotion of books on editorial discretion pages within Amazon’s web site yields increases in sales, and more frequent promotion of a book is associated with larger increases in sales. Increases in sales are greatest for newly-released hardcover books; increases are larger for childrens’ books, books in stock, and books more favorably priced at Amazon than at its foremost competitor, Barnes & Noble. Increases in sales are larger during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas than before or after the holiday season, and promotion has a larger effect when editorial discretion pages feature only a few books than when they feature many. Finally, the average short-run effect of promotion on one of Amazon’s editorial discretion pages is found to be roughly one third as large as the effect of an appearance in the New York Times Book Review, and the annual sum of Amazon’s editorial discretion promotional activities shows a total short-run impact on sales roughly three fifths as large as the totality of annual Times book reviews.