Cultural products go online: Comparing the internet and print media on distributions of gender, genre and commercial success

Marc Verboord 1
  • 1 Associate professor in the Department of Media and Communication of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Abstract

This article examines whether the attention to cultural products on the internet is more democratically structured (in terms of gender and genre distributions) than in traditional print media, and how these types of media attention affect commercial success. For the U.S. fiction book releases in February 2009, I analyze consumer ratings at the web store Amazon.com and the social networking site Goodreads.com. The results show that on the internet far more books receive attention, and that this indeed comes to the advantage of female authors and authors of popular fiction. Moreover, online publicity positively affects commercial success. These outcomes suggest that online attention to cultural products dampens the effects of institutionally embedded evaluations, while word-of-mouth mechanisms are becoming increasingly prominent in terms of how cultural products are discussed.

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