Congrats, 2014 National Book Award Winners!

Congratulations are in order for the winners of the National Book Awards!

We stuck our neck out last week and were a hair’s breadth from predicting two of the winners. Today we’ve been looking back at our data and wondering what signals we missed that would have allowed us to make a correct prediction.

When it came down to it, the race was extremely close: Evan OsnosAge of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, Faith in the New China won out against John Lahr’s Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh. We had Tennessee Williams ahead thanks to the large number of recent tweets referencing the book (nearly ten times as many as Age of Ambition). However, the eventual winner amassed the most tweets over the course of the year and, crucially, these tweets had extremely high sentiment.

We also plumped for John Corey Whaley’s Noggin in the Young Person category as it had a very strong week on Twitter ahead of the awards and had out-performed the competition over the entire year. Brown Girl Dreaming’s surge to victory, from second in our prediction, may have been foreseeable – it did gather twice as many predictions as Noggin in the month following the announcement of the finalists – a good sign that it had strong momentum.

We’ll take all this on board and tweak our technology so that next time, we’ll be spot on. In the meantime, check out the rest of the National Book Award Winners and learn more about the judges! If you’ve read any of the novels, sound off and let us know what you think—do you agree or disagree with the verdicts?

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