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Is Backlist the New Frontlist?

Large-scale data analysis of bestseller book consumption in streaming services

In: Logos
Authors: Karl Berglund and Ann Steiner
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Abstract

Streaming services for audiobooks and ebooks have grown rapidly in recent years. The shift in consumption patterns has transformed both reading and publishing. One visible change is the attraction and importance of backlist titles. The article investigates how the relationship between frontlist and backlist in the bestseller segment has developed, and discusses the shift in the power balance between the two. By examining large-scale consumer behaviour data (6.23 million streams) from one of the key players in subscription-based digital bookselling – Storytel – we track book consumption both in detail and at a structural level. Our results show that backlist titles are increasingly important for bestselling authors who continue to publish frontlist titles, especially for fiction written in series. Streaming services foster new types of book consumption behaviour thanks to a combination of technology, media, reading habits, and social change.

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