Designer & Developer: Lu Liu
Output: Interactive Installation & Video & Custom Software (Java, MySQL, Processing, Javascript)
Duration: 2 month

Books remain one of the most crucial cultural representing forms. The number of books being published has exploded all over the world in the past twenty years. It’s not difficult to imagine that it’s getting harder and harder for a book to stay alive, to sustain its popularity with the lapse of time. Taking novels as an example, releasing a film adapted from a novel seems like a great way to maintain attractiveness. 


Inspired by this question, The Life of Novels in Library is an interactive information visualization which selectively reflects the trend of popularity of featured books by visualizing each single checkout record of those novels in the library over time. Assume that the number of checkouts in the library reflects the desire of people to read the original book. This project intends not only depicting how adapted films have significant impacts on preventing the decay of novels in libraries but also letting the audience to explore the life of the novels and find exciting patterns by themselves through real-time interaction. Over 20,000 checkout records are collected from Seattle Public Library and visualized in an aesthetically creative structure in three-dimension space.

Data Collection

At a starting point, I chose four novels that their adapted films respectively released in 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2014. I dug into the database of Seattle Public Library by using MySQL to collect detailed checkout information of those four novels. The next step was to analyze detailed info by statistical charts (to show the cultural trend by comparing the number of checkouts over months in releasing year of their adapted movies) Four tables are attached below, and the position of the red mark on the horizontal axis is the release date of the adaption film. 

Da Vinci Code is a mystery-detective novel written by Dan Brown and published in 2003. The adaptation film released on May 19, 2006. 

Time Traveler’s Wife is a novel written by Audrey Niffenegger published in 2003. The adaptation film released on 14 August 2009

Hunger Games is a series of adventure novels written by Suzanne Collins, which respectively published in 2008, 2009 and 2010. And their corresponding adaptation films respectively released in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 (The third one Mockingjay divided into two parts)

Fault in Our Stars is a novel written by John Green published in 2012. The adaptation film was released on June 6, 2014.

Data Analysis

The most apparent trend we can see from the above four charts is that after the release of the film, the checkout number of the corresponding novel more or less increased, which, to some degree, confirmed the first hypothesis: Adapted films can inspire the desire of people to read the original book.

Then another feature I found is that this influence is time limited. The checkout number of the novel will eventually decrease after several months of the film released. And the chart below is more persuasive evidence for this feature.

I also compared the checkout number of Hunger Games over years since its a series of novel. When the first adaptation film released, the checkouts has clearly increased. However, when the second film published in 2013, there was no such a peak of checkouts around the releasing date.


The last phenomenon I noticed is that this effect is a little bit time-behind. The table below reveals the trend of checkouts from five months before the release time of the corresponding adapted film to five months after. The peak of checkouts was not the same time as the releasing time of the modified film. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is that people may need some time to decide if they want to see the original book.

Preliminary sketches:

The distance between the individual box and the center point represents the years. (from 2006 to 2014).
The vertical axis represents the time of the day (from 12 am to 12 pm).
The colors distinguish different novels.

The brightness of the color represents the number of checkouts in a specific month.

The size of the box represents the checkout time for each record.


Final outcomes:

Instruction of operations for interaction (Processing Version):

Press "a" OR "A" on the keyboard to show all checkout records.
Press "s" OR "S" on the keyboard to show the selection bar.

(Choose specific movie item to see more details information about this novel and its adapted movie)
Press "p" OR ''P'': Display the checkout records by points.
Press "b" OR "B": Display the checkout records by boxes.


Conference and Exhibitions:

This project was exhibited at Museum COMPUTATION & EXPRESSION: June 25, 2016 - August 14, 2016, UCSB Art Museum

This project was exhibited at UCSB Media Arts&Technology Program 2016 End of Year Show: White Noise, May 26 - 28, 2016