Did Oprah steal book sales with her reading club?

There is a new paper (pdf) from the excellent Craig Garthwaite, here is the abstract:

This paper studies the economic effects of endorsements. In the publishing sector, endorsements from the Oprah Winfrey Book Club are found to be a business stealing form of advertising that raises title level sales without increasing the market size. The endorsements decrease aggregate adult fiction sales; likely as a result of the endorsed books being more difficult than those that otherwise would have been purchased.  Economically meaningful sales increases are also found for non-endorsed titles by endorsed authors.  These spillover demand estimates demonstrate a broad range of benefits from advertising for firms operating in a multiproduct brand setting.
For one thing, it’s really hard to get people to read more.


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