• Dylan Kling

EU by the numbers: breakdown of the Star Wars Legends adult novel ratings by publication date

Yesterday I posted the first article in my series about the analyzing the 1,522,923 user star ratings of EU novels from various book rating websites. In that article all I looked at was the list of the 160 adult novels with their overall ratings so I could rank them in order. So if you just want to see that or an explanation in how I got the numbers and the methods I used to calculate them you can do read it here. Today though I want to look at the data in different ways to try an analyze some trends in regards to the Legends adult novels. One of the first things I did was organize the novels by their release date to see some trends over time. This however didn't go well due to the fairly large gap in the first wave of EU books that came out around the time of the OT and the Bantam era, as well as the large number of books that came out in a short time made any graphs difficult to gleam any useful information from. Additionally sources vary on what the exact release date is for several books up until fairly recently.


So instead I decided to combine all books released in a given year into one data point and graph each year on it's own. This eliminated the clustering issue and worked to fix the issue of contradicting sources for dates as all sources agreed on the years, just not the days and in some cases the month. Doing so resulted in this table.

Now something you will notice is that there are two averages listed for the star ratings, these are what I call the Average and Weighted Average. Average is simply the average of each book's rating that year. This gives equal weight to each book that came out and serves to show what the average of all books released that year on an equal footing. Weighted average is calculated the same way I got each of the star ratings for the individual books, but applying that to combining the score of every book that came out that year. I go into more detail about this in the first article but this gives an average that is more biased towards the books that have more ratings, which are also most likely the books that more people have read. So in summary Normal Average is meant to show the average of every book that came out that year on an equal footing where as weighted average is the average that is giving more bias to those books that more people read and left a star rating for.


Graphing these we get this



Some general things to note is that the early Del Rey years don't see very high star ratings except for the novelizations. You can see that when ESB and ROTJ came out there is a much lower average than weighted average, indicating the novels that weren't those books were not nearly as popular or well received. Unsurprisingly the years that had the highest ratings were when the Thrawn Trilogy came out but very interestingly is that the lowest years are actually 1994 and 1995, the two years after the Thrawn Trilogy. Contrary to popular belief this data seems to indicate that Bantam hit it's lowest not at the end but near the middle, and by the time the rights switched back to Del Rey, Bantam was actually on the upswing.


From then on the overall trend is a continual upswing with local peaks at 1998, 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2012, with lows at 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2013. Additionally the late 90s mid 2000s and early 2010s are when the weighted average most differs with the average.


Now one thing to consider about this data is that on the 28th of June 2013 Del Rey announced a new program called Star wars Action Team or SWAT. This was a program in which you could join and earn rewards for reading books and leaving positive reviews. It is impossible to tell how this has effected the data but it is likely that some of the later books have slightly inflated numbers due to this program.


Another way to look at the data is the number of ratings per year and ratings per book. While not a perfect one for one comparison generally a book that has more user ratings has been read more so comparing can show which years had the most active readers.



If nothing else this graph shows just the impact the Thrawn Trilogy had, They were each the only release that year and the number of ratings each of those are on par with the total number of ratings of the years that would follow. Contrary to the ratings the 90s were where the peak of the number of ratings. This is expected as conventional wisdom was that the Bantam era was the most popular when it came out. What I didn't expect was that the next peak came in the years right after ROTS came out. This seems to be because of the release of the first two Bane Books as well as Republic Commando that are inflating the ratings numbers in these years. There is another peak in 2012, but this one is entirely due to Darth Plagueis which has over twice as many ratings as the other five adult novels released that year combined. Also 2014 saw a tanking in the number of ratings though that is also because only 2 books came out that year before the EU was cancelled.


I should also note that the downward trend is to be expected, as the longer a book is out the more time people have to read it. Thus it follows that the older books on average would have more ratings than the newer ones.


I decided to graph the ratings per year on their own graph as it is hard to see them on the same graph as the total ratings. Though the Thrawn Trilogy again messed with this graph so I omitted them so we can look at the rest.



We see a similar trend to the total ratings graph though the peak years are a lot closer indicating the variance came from more books not better quality. Again we see a peak in the 90s then a decline, but a bounce back right after ROTS and in 2012. 2014 did see the lowest average despite only having 2 books come out that year though I suspect that is more to do with the decanonization and cancelling of the EU.


So that is all the stuff I noticed from the numbers looking at the Adult novels. However the series isn't over as I also got the numbers for the Young Adult and Junior novels. So check back next week for that list and in the mean time let us know what you think, any observations you made, and what you'd like to see me do with these numbers in future articles.


This article is part of a series of articles, click here for the previous article in the series and here for the next article in the series.

To see more EU news, updates, and original content about the Expanded Universe, click here!

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