Friday, February 06, 2004

Book Ends 
Here are two very interesting graphics using Amazon book sales to illustrate America's cultural divide.

From this year.

From last year.

Take a quick look before reading on.

(Thanks to Uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan for catching them.)

I haven't read any of this year's books, I'm afraid. I've been busy. My own score from last year is two "Reds," (Slander and Bias) one "Blue." (Chomsky's 9-11)

My suspicion is that the cultural divide isn't quite as stark as the study portrays. The reason has to do with the way books are marketed online.

Click on Anne Coulter's book on Amazon and they'll try to get you to buy a bunch of other books from a list. And Noam Chomsky's book 9-11 just ain't gonna be on it.

So this list doesn't reveal so much about the book-buying habits of the American Public as it does about Amazon's 'upselling' marketing strategy.

A better sample might come from a national bricks and mortar bookstore, where customer's simply pull books from the Social Sciences section, alphabetized by author, and without additional prompting.

I would also throw out titles less than six months old, as these are more apt to be heavily marketed, and so skew the sample. Likewise, I'd throw out books that hit the 'discount bin.'

It would then be a simple matter to compare titles and graphs by zip codes. The web would be a lot more complex, but you could still replicate it by drawing an array and arranging title pairs by the correlation between them.

Regression analysis is a beautiful thing.

I'm not saying the cultural divide doesn't exist. It surely does! One look at the most famous infographic in American history--the 2000 electoral map--will tell you that.

But I'll tell you, I can almost instantly tell the bloggers with extremely lopsided Red-Blue reading scores, and they bore me to tears.

Splash, out


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