We identify and examine factors that determine the commercial success of a cultural product in the marketplace for audience attention. In addition, we explore the question of whether the factors that determine initial success promote or constrain a person’s tendency to create a follow-up product. To answer this question, we construct a dataset of first-time authors of cookbooks in the United Kingdom. Our analyses of 225 cookbooks written by first-time authors reveal that both a book’s novelty as well as the acclaim that is bestowed upon it (by receiving a prestigious award) determine its commercial success. In addition, we find that the factors that drive the commercial success of the first cookbook, in certain constellations, constrain an individual’s tendency to publish a second book. Specifically, among authors whose first cookbook won a prestigious award, having written a novel book becomes a constraint. Our findings show that novelty is important to the commercial success of a cultural product yet it may also serve to constrain the producer’s tendency to continue the process of creative production. Thus, our findings highlight the difficulties in sustaining creativity over time and offer some tentative insights into why producers may abandon their creative efforts.
Dirk Deichmann is an Associate Professor at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. In his research he focuses on the determinants and consequences of creative and innovative behavior, with particular emphasis on the question of how sustained and successful idea generation, development, and implementation can be achieved.
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