Are Stephen King’s books really better than the movies? Data crunchers try to answer the question

The writings of Stephen King, the bestselling author and arguably Maine’s most recognizable resident, have over the decades been adapted into several movies, to varying degrees of success.

Now, some data crunchers have compared the quality of King’s material on the page with its quality on the screen, plotting review scores on a chart showing which stories were better as novels and which ones were arguably better as movies.

Basically, they’re weighing the online ratings of the movie versions, as determined by thousands of Internet Movie Database (IMDb) users, against the ratings of the book versions, developed from the opinions of GoodReads.com users.

You can find several drafts of these charts and the debate playing out on the bulletin board site Reddit, but here’s perhaps the most comprehensive of the data layouts, as drawn up by user whitehat1300:

stephen king chart

You can see that, using this approach, 14 of the stories listed were considered better as books, while seven were considered better as movies.

To be clear, this chart — as well as a couple other similar ones in the Reddit thread — are not above reproach. One critic argued that GoodReads ratings are known to skew positive, potentially putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the book versions.

Another went a step further and noted that neither user group responsible for the respective ratings is representative of the larger population, while yet another said the method of normalization used above — using the lowest ranking “The Tommyknockers” as a zero point and highest ranking “Shawshank Redemption” as 10 — is ineffective in this context.

(A better way of normalizing the data, that user argued, would have been to create relative adjustments using a random selection of other books and movies at the respective sites to get baselines for how the stories fared within their own media before comparing them across media. Or at least I think that was the argument.)

And of course, these are just data analyses.

There are many people who — online user rankings aside — could never be convinced there are movie adaptations that are better than the original book versions.

On the flipside, there may be some movie buffs out there who feel the opposite way, no matter what the GoodReads rankings say.

What do you think? Are Stephen King’s books better than their movie versions? Or do you like the movies better? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or share them on Facebook.

Stephen King poses for a photo with Tara McConnell of Westbrook Saturday at Books a Million in South Portland. (BDN photo by Troy R. Bennett)

Stephen King poses for a photo with Tara McConnell of Westbrook Saturday at Books a Million in South Portland. (BDN photo by Troy R. Bennett)