The Bestseller Code: Algorithmic Hits

The Bookseller: “Jodie Archer, a former publisher and consultant, and Matthew Jockers, co-founder of Stanford University’s Literary Lab, have built an algorithm aimed at proving that mega-hits are predictable. The system, which analyses theme, plot, style and character to predict whether a manuscript will be a bestseller, has looked at 20,000 novels using “cutting-edge text-mining techniques”. The duo’s efforts are charted in a new book, The Bestseller Code to be published by Allen Lane in September.”

“The authors claims that it is correct ‘over eighty percent of the time.’ However the selection of The Circle, which according to Nielsen BookScan in the UK, has sold 43,638 copies in paperback since spring 2014, and never appeared in the Top 50 or any of The Bookseller’s fiction charts, could prove controversial. The Eggers book—the novel which scored 100% on the algorithm—is described as ‘the single most paradigmatic bestseller of the past 30 years’.”

Jodi Archer comments: “The maverick editor that wants to do something new, to start a new trend, that’s not going to happen using technology.” Yet she says that the algorithm will
“actually be very good” at identifying likely best-sellers.

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