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Could Bad Publicity Help Book Sales?

Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Alan Sorenson and Wharton Business School professor Jonah Berger studied an unexpected question: “Can bad publicity boost book sales?”

They discovered that a popular author’s books can suffer from bad publicity, but a lesser-known writer’s titles can actually benefit from it. According to The Stanford Daily, three mini-studies were conducted to analyze this phenomenon.

The second study examined the long-term effects of bad publicity on well-known books versus obscure titles. While negative reviews affected a buyer’s desire to purchase a popular author’s book, they didn’t influence a buyer’s decision to purchase a lesser-known author’s work.

The studies depended on emotional “decay rate”– how quickly an emotion (both good or bad) fades away. Stanford business professor Baba Shiv explained: “In the case of a well-known brand, the familiarity is already there … the decay rate of negative emotion will be much slower.” (Via Sarah Weinman)

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated since the original post.

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