EU by the Numbers: Ranking all the Adult Star Wars Legends Stories
A bit over two months ago I set out to find out what were the best and worst books in the EU. Not by one person's opinion, but the opinions of the masses to get a rough estimation of what the fans consider to be the best and worst books. In that quest I scoured five of the most popular websites that allow users to give ratings to books. These being Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and anobii. I compiled all 1,522,923 user ratings on those sites of the over 280 EU novels into excel sheets so I can break down that data. Last month I compared the books to each other, ranking them and then breaking down the numbers further first looking at the adult novels, then the YA novels then all together. 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 I want to focus on how this data stacks up when applied to the stories, and to rank each story. As you should be accustomed to by now I have done so for the Adult, YA and combined list. This article will cover the adult books, and will be followed by one about the YA books and one with the combined ranks.
But first I think it is important to state what I consider a story. So obviously every book is technically it's own story, however some are a part of a larger series that cover a set of character or events. I've already ranked each book individually but for some of the larger series like NJO ranking each individual book will put them much lower as the individual installments are fairly weak on their own, but when put together tell a far greater story. So I wanted to be able to list and rank those series that work to tell a larger story along side standalone novels. For this list every set of books that was officially written as, marketed as or tell an overarching story is considered a story for the purposes of this list. Where as every book that is its own self contained story is also counted as a story by itself. I'll probably catch some flak for the series I counted as a story or not but I think I got it about as right as possible.
Now if you've read my previous articles in this series where I explain the difference between the average and weighted average and what that means you can skip the next paragraph. But for those that don't I'll run through it again.
Lets say you have 10 books, each have a number of people that have given it a rating out of 5 stars, and an aggregated rating based on those ratings. How would you determine what the average rating of these books are? Well you could just take each book's aggregated rating and add them together then divide by 10. This would be the standard way of calculating averages and would give you a rating that was the average of the 10. However, what if those books don't have the same number of ratings? What if one or two books have well over twice the number of ratings as the others? Well to calculate the ratings by average wouldn't be fair, as more people have given those books the ratings they have than the others. So you could figure out the total number of stars each book got by multiplying the aggregated rating by the numbers of ratings. Then add each book's total number of stars together, and divide by the total number of people that gave a rating. This would give you a weighted average, and ensure that those books that more people gave a rating to are weighted more than those books that didn't. For the more mathematically inclined the formula looks like this.
So with all of that we have the list, or lists of all the adult stories from worst to best, based on the metrics of over 1.5 million user ratings across the five major book rating websites. Again this isn't my opinion, this is just what the data says. So don't get mad at me if your favorite series isn't as high as you think they should be.
(Left Average, Right Weighed Average)
I actually find it rather amazing how close these two lists are. The averages for each list were 3.7952 stars for average and 3.7954 stars for the weighted average. Most of the differences is simply a switching of two stories. This to me says that with the stories there is a greater consistency in how the books with more ratings are perceived than those with less ratings. Which makes sense as it is expected that when multiple books are all a part of the same story it is more likely that the same number of people read them. Where as with the authors and a more loose interpretation of series that show count the unofficial stuff, there is a much greater variance in how many people read each book, leading to much different lists between the normal and weighted average.
We'll also look at the number of ratings each of these stories got, and how many ratings per book in that story. This is more a pseudo measure of popularity as more ratings means more people have probably read it, but it is a bit imperfect for this as it is only showing how many people had a strong enough opinion to leave a user star rating. But the numbers are interesting nonetheless so I'll include them.
(Left Total ratings, Right Ratings per book)
I'll be back on Wednesday for the YA rankings. In the meantime let us know what you think? How did your favorite stories do? Which list do you prefer? Are there are any stories that I left off or included that you don't think should be there? And if you have any other ideas on how to look at this data I've collected let us know.
To see more EU news, updates, and original content about the Expanded Universe, click here!