This article analyzes the role of awards as quality signals in the book industry. Drawing on a novel dataset of book awards, it examines the level of consensus between expert juries (as measured by awards and nominations), active consumption (as measured by consumer ratings), passive consumption (as measured by sales), and long-term consecration (as measured by inclusion in anthologies or prestigious lists) in the book industry of the United States, France, and the Netherlands or Flanders. It finds that there is virtually no overlap in the books that receive recognition by different expert juries, in stark contrast to similar research in the movie industry. Only in the United States we find some evidence of a consensus between expert book juries, active and passive consumption, and long-term consecration. From this comparison, we draw theoretical implications, drawing on the theory of economic coordination regimes by Karpik, about the different meaning of awards as signals of quality. In particular, we argue that when authenticity is important, we should not expect quality signals to converge, but when authenticity is less important, quality signals should be expected to converge more.

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Empirical Studies of the Arts
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

Dekker, E., & de Jong, M. (2017). What Do Book Awards Signal? An Analysis of Book Awards in Three Countries. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 36(1), 3–21. doi:10.1177/0276237416689636