Colin Fine colin at kindness.demon.co.uk
Sat Jun 2 12:08:32 EDT 2007

deborah.dwj at suberic.net wrote:
> On Wed, 23 May 2007, Sally Odgers wrote:
>>> >
>>> ObDWJ: Er. DWJ takes up rather a lot of shelf space?
>> Lots of column centimetres in my on-line library catalogue, too.  As 
>> do Trease, Anthony, Heinlein and Heyer... Who in the world has the 
>> greatest number of books by one author, I wonder? It WOULD have been 
>> Isaac A, I would think. I wonder if his widow inherited his collection?
> LibraryThing has a feature that is almost right but which rather
> annoys me. On its "zeitgeist" page of random statistics
> (<http://www.librarything.com/zeitgeist>), they have a list they
> call "50 most completist authors", which is defined as "Average
> number of different books held by people who have any books by
> the author". (Look at the bottom of the middle column on that
> page.) At the moment, the number one author is Kenneth Robeson
> with people who who hold Kenneth Robeson books having an average
> of 22.85 Kenneth Robeson books. The problem with this? Kenneth
> Robeson has hundreds of works listed in LibraryThing. The last
> person on the list is Carolyn Keene; people would Carolyn Keene
> books have an average of 7.29 Carolyn Keene books. This tells you
> something more about how prolific the author is that it does
> about how completist the author's fans are.
> The statistic I'd be more interested in is, given authors who
> have at least some number of books (three? I'm picking a random
> number), what percentage of their books are held by fans to have
> any number of their books. For example, for people who have any
> Diana Wynne Jones books, what's the average percentage of all
> Diana Wynne Jones works that are held? Obviously these numbers
> won't be perfect either; science fiction and fantasy books, for
> example, are often publishing compilations as well as
> individually, and while I own all of the works which comprise The
> Chronicles of Chrestomanci, I don't own either of the Chronicles
> of Chrestomanci collections. But still, it would be more
> interesting statistic to me than the fact that the average person
> who has any books by Nora Roberts has 10.05 books by Nora
> Roberts. I know enough about Nora Roberts to know that it's more
> significant that the average person who owns any books by Tamora
> Pierce owns 8.61 books by Tamora Pierce, simply because I know
> that Nora Roberts has written volumes and volumes more than
> Tamora Pierce has. But you can't tell that from the statistics.
> (I have 39 catalogued Diana Wynne Jones books in LibraryThing.)
I've noticed something odd about DWJ owners on LibraryThing, but I'm not 
sure what to make of it. I have 37 DWJ's catalogued, out of 447 books. 
If I order my own library by popularity of books, my first DWJ appears 
at the bottom of the third page - no 56. (I don't seem to have entered 
Howl, which is her most popular book on LibraryThing at 1162 copies - 
and indeed, I can't see it on my shelf. No doubt it will turn up).

But when I go to my profile page and looked at the users listed in my 
'Users with your books', I see an enormous preponderance of DWJ in the 
libraries it lists as being most like mine. Admittedly, I am looking at 
the 'weighted' list, not the raw list - which presumably reflects that 
DWJ is not /that /popular on LT (2063 users have 9734 books by her, 
compared with say 6,722:67,644 for Pratchett, or 11,553:29,439 for Jane 
Austen). But still the figures are remarkable. Every one of the top 12 
'users with my books' has significant numbers of DWJ among the books we 
have in common - in fact, for 10 of the 12, at least 18 of the 20 most 
popular books we have in common are DWJ. Picking at random further down 
the list, I've only found two where the list of books we have in common 
doesn't have any DWJ in the first 20.

I'm not sure what to make of this. Or whether to make anything. But I 
was surprised. I think it may be something to do with completism: only 
one of the top 12 users has as many as 37 books in common with me, and 
the 37 I do share with the significantly named 'angorian' does include 
some non-DWJ.


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