Everybody's an Expert

Soon everything will be modeled on either a game show or the stock market. From The New York Times (“Publisher to Let the Public Have a Vote on Book Projects,” by Motoko Rich):

When predicting which candidate is likely to win an election, what a movie will make at the box office or how much the price of oil will fluctuate, the guesses of a crowd can be remarkably accurate.

But can crowds predict whether a book will succeed?

That is the hope of the founders of Media Predict (www.MediaPredict.com), a virtual market beginning today, and Simon & Schuster, a publisher that plans to select a book proposal based on bets placed by traders in the new market.

Quote of the day:

Justin Wolfers, an assistant professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who studies prediction markets, said that if Simon & Schuster relies on the traders’ judgments to select a book, it could skew the bets themselves.

"If they say we find it really persuasive that everyone bet on book A, they’re just looking at a book that everyone bet that everyone else bet that everyone else thinks is the best book," Mr. Wolfers said. "So you don’t end up with the wisdom of crowds, but the infinite reflection of crowds looking at crowds."

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

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