- Dylan Kling
EU by the Numbers: breakdown of the Star Wars Legends YA novel ratings by publication date
Last week I posted an article expanding on my previous articles in my series about 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 123 young adult and young readers novels (which I will refer to as YA in the remainder of this article) with their overall star 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 YA novels. One of the first things I did was organize the novels by their release year to see some trends over time. Like with the adult novels this did not work due to most of the YA books being clustered in a few short spans of years.
I decided to instead combine all books released in a given year into one data point and graph each year on it's own. Doing so resulted in this table.
I explain the difference between the Weighted Average and Average in this article, but to summarize 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 rating for.
Graphing these we get this
So the first thing to note is that no one seems to like Jedi Prince that much as they were consistently the lowest rated books and you can quite easily tell where they are. Aside from that these are very interesting graphs. You can see five distinct clusters. From 92-93, 95-98 (or 95-99 with the normal average), 99-03 (or 00-03 with normal averages), 04-08 and 09-13. 1999 seems to create different clusters depending on how you average the data. This is because 1999 saw the release of a couple science fiction adventures novels as well as the Episode 1 Journals that were not highly rated and didn't have a lot of user reviews. It also had the Episode 1 junior novelization and the first five Jedi Apprentice books which were all highly rated and reviewed. But as the former consisted of four books while the latter consisted of six books when averaged out the higher rated books barely come out on top, But the four lower rated books only account for 997 of the 19135 user star ratings so the weighted average skews heavily towards the latter six books that are better rated. Just an example of the effect averages and weighted averages has on the data.
With the exception of the very last cluster every cluster is in general greater than the last. This suggests that the readership felt that each era of YA books was better than the one before it. The exception being the final cluster which is when the Last of the Jedi series ended and the TCW tie-ins and Rebel Force series started. 2012 is itself an outlier among this cluster that is entirely due to Ryder Windham's The Wrath of Darth Maul, which is not only highly rated at 4.15, but also had stars had 1664 star ratings when the only other YA book of that year The Clone Wars: Secret Missions 4: Guardians of the Chiss Key had 120 star ratings and a rating of 3.827 stars. Had this book not come out then 2012 would have been on par with the other years in it's cluster.
Though what makes this even more fascinating is when you look at the total number of ratings for YA books each year.
Here the graph is the complete opposite. Granted 92-93 is the lowest in both, but in the ratings graph the increase in number of ratings continues only until 1999, then falls in each cluster afterwards. The number of ratings is supposed to be representative of how many people were reading these books. Although it probably isn't a one to one comparison, a book with more ratings most likely had more people read it. This means that each generation since 1999, there were fewer people reading the YA books than the last. So while the reader's perceptions of the quality of books increased, the number of people reading them decreased. Now an important thing to note is that the YA market is quite volatile, as the people in your target demographic is constantly outgrowing your products. This means that the people reading YA books in the 90s most likely aren't the same people reading them in the mid to late 2000s. Yes the same logic of the older books have more ratings because people had more time to read them does apply in this case as well, though I'm not sure how much of the adult audience is going back and reading the older YA stuff. In fact the lack of availability of the older stuff and the fact that many of the websites simply didn't have any user star ratings for books older than 10 years makes me think this is having less of an effect on this trend of falling readers over time than it did in the adult novels.
In my article breaking down the adult books I mentioned that there were spikes in ratings totals in 1996, 1998, 2006, and 2009, and you can see in this graph that most of those are also dips in the YA ratings totals. Indicating that part of the reason for those peaks in the number of adult novel ratings could be due to younger readers moving up to reading the adult novels. Though in the adult novels each peak was smaller than the last, again demonstrating the trend of less and less kids getting into Star Wars books each generation if that theory is true. Plus there are other peaks and valleys that either line up perfectly with the YA list or are completely unrelated, so it is unlikely that every spike in readership in the adult novels was due to the increase in the younger audience reading those books.
Here are the two graphs combined so you can compare.
(Adult ratings have been divided by 5 for ease of viewing the trends)
Looking at the number of ratings per YA book released that year tells a similar story, though the dates of the peaks in the adult novels don't line up as perfectly in this one as they do in the total rankings graph.
So that is all the stuff I noticed from the numbers looking at the YA novels. However the series isn't over as next I'm going to combine the lists of both the Adult and YA stuff to see how they compare. 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.
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