Prizewinners versus Bestsellers. Timeless Reads or the Spotlight of Fame?

This post is the first in a series by this year’s .txtLAB interns. It is authored by Eva Portelance.

Building Corpuses

The first step in our search for answers required that we build solid corpuses for comparison. The PW corpus was selected from five main literary awards given in the United-States, Canada and Britain. These were the National Book Awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Governor General Literary Award for Fiction, the Scotiabank Giller Prize and The Man Booker Prize, this last one also awards international authors who have been published in the United Kingdom. From these awards, all shortlisted books, including the winners, from years 2005 to 2014 that were available as e-publications in Canada were selected. This amounted to 216 books. Publications that had won several prizes were only added once to the set. As for the BS, the 200 most popular books from the New York Times Bestsellers list from 2008 to 2014 were selected. This criteria was defined by the number of weeks spent on the list. The additional criteria that the novels had to have been published post- 2000 was also considered to try to better match the publication dates of the PW.

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