Bookselling

What’s the Matter with Fiction Sales?

4 November 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

According to 2017 estimates released this summer by the Association of American Publishers, sales of adult fiction fell 16% between 2013 and 2017, from $5.21 billion to $4.38 billion. The numbers, though not a major worry, raise questions about the books the industry is publishing and what consumers want to read.

Since 2013, fiction sales fell every year with the exception of 2015. That year they rose 1%, helped by Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and three other novels that topped one million print copies sold. (The AAP tracks all major formats—print, digital, and audio—in its sales estimates.) Interviews and discussions with various industry members uncovered different theories about why there’s been a downturn in fiction.

The most commonly shared view is that it has become extremely difficult to generate exposure for novels. Fiction, more than nonfiction, depends on readers discovering new books by browsing. Now, with the number of physical stores down from five years ago (despite a rise in ABA membership), publishers cannot rely on bricks-and-mortar stores providing customers with access to new books.

Nor can publishers depend on media outlets to make up for the gap left by the shrinking footprint of physical bookstores. Review space in mainstream media has been slashed, cutting off another possibility for readers to learn about new fiction.

The upshot of those developments is that publishers have found breaking out new writers—never mind developing new franchise authors—increasingly difficult.

Creating authors who can draw readers via name recognition alone is crucial to selling novels. Research done by the Codex Group shows that the author is the most important factor in a person’s decision to buy a novel. Codex founder Peter Hildick-Smith says that with so much inexpensive genre fiction now available at “subprime price points under $5” (from such channels as Kindle Unlimited), publishers must invest to develop brand name authors who can command premium-price loyalty.

That process can require a multiple-book commitment. It can also require a type of commitment that’s difficult for publishers: sticking with authors who don’t produce instant bestsellers.

Based on Codex research, a person typically reads an average of three books by an author before becoming hooked on his or her books. Publishers, however, as Hildick-Smith and others interviewed noted, seem increasingly reluctant to support authors whose books don’t immediately sell. “Creating a dependable, bestselling author is a multibook investment that requires different strategies and great persistence,” Hildick-Smith said. “It’s not a one-and-done launch.”

The difficulty publishers have recently had in creating brand name authors can be seen in BookScan numbers. The service, which tracks only print sales, shows that fiction sales continue to be soft. Moreover, the BookScan figures show that no fiction title topped one million copies sold in 2016 or 2017 at outlets that report to the service. In 2015, the only year in the past five when fiction sales rose over the previous year, four novels sold more than one million print copies each, according to BookScan: Watchman (1.6 million), Grey by E.L. James (1.4 million), The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (1.3 million), and Anthony Doer’s All The Light We Cannot See (one million).

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Attentive readers will note the single mention of Amazon – Kindle Unlimited, associated with “subprime price points under $5”. Traditional publishers can’t and won’t compete in that market, preferring authors and books with “premium-price loyalty”.

PG suggests that category title is not properly worded. Instead, he believes that traditional publishers are trying to promote authors and books that attempt to command “over-priced loyalty” from readers.

As readers come to understand that most of the money they pay for traditionally-published books goes to middle-folk like bookstores and publishers with very little trickling down to authors, their loyalty to premium pricing may erode.

A Hilarious New Memoir Reveals the Absurd Business of Selling Books Today

21 August 2018

From Quartzy:

Wigtown is a coastal “book town” in Scotland that features an Airbnb rental where bibliophiles can spend their vacation living out the romantic fantasy of running a bookstore. And indeed, according to Shaun Bythell, a year-round bookseller in the same town, it’s deeply romantic work: The evocative smell of books, mixed with cat piss; the customers who openly compare prices on their laptops to Amazon; the book-loving employees, always drunk or severely hungover; the orders for erotica titles such as Tokyo Lucky Hole; and the badgering of aspiring memoirists trying to find a publisher.

Bythell’s own memoir, The Diary of a Bookseller, is a hilarious read about a dreary year running The Book Shop, a large used bookstore in Wigtown. After a September 2017 UK release, the book comes out in the US Sept. 4 from Melville House.

. . . .

Bythell took over the store in 2001, at age 31. Starting in early 2014, he kept a daily journal of store happenings for one year. It’s a cheerfully depressing account of independent bookselling today—deadpan, ruthless, poignant, and at times, so charming it’s almost unbelievable.

Bythell’s main antagonist is also his only regular employee, a Jehovah’s Witness named Nicky. The two are locked in a weekly battle of mutual torment, Nicky moving On the Origin of Species to the fiction section, and Bythell retaliating by placing the Bible with novels. On Fridays, Nicky brings him dubious food scavenged from dumpsters—egg custard tarts she’s sat on, or expired packaged cake. One week’s treat “looked like something from a hospital clinical waste bin.”

The larger cast of characters in Diary of a Bookseller are so zany and absurd they would seem over-the-top in a 1990s movie about an indie record shop. There’s Sandy, the most tattooed man in Scotland, according to Bythell, who barters walking sticks for store credit; Smelly Kelly, the cologne-soaked man in dogged pursuit of Nicky, who has made it clear she’s not interested; and Eliot, Bythell’s friend who tends to discard his shoes somewhere in the store within 10 minutes of arrival.

. . . .

The circus aside, the book is rich with information about the business of bookselling, including a description of an ingenious online scam to reduce book prices. Bythell saves his deepest rancor for Amazon (though he uses it to fulfill online orders), which has hit him and other small and medium-sized used booksellers particularly hard. His contempt is made apparent one day in August, when he receives a complaint about a late book. Bythell goes to his parents’ house to borrow a shotgun and then shoots a used Kindle he bought on eBay for £10. (Footage of the target practice is admittedly satisfying.) He mounts the mangled e-reader in the store.

The Diary of a Bookseller doesn’t seem like it should work. Life at The Book Shop is boring. On a typical day Bythell might sell £200 worth of books, once as little as £5. But there is a soothing monotony to the rhythm of his days. Bythell somehow creates a sense of urgency in the nothingness, and readers may feel that if they skip even one day, they’ll miss some winningly cutting remark.

Link to the rest at Quartzy and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Latest Amazon Charts Report – Top 20

30 July 2018

Here are the latest Amazon Charts book rankings:

Fiction

Non-Fiction

 

Romance – Kindle Bestsellers

29 July 2018
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Top 100 Kindle Best Sellers

28 July 2018

Top 100  Kindle Books – Paid

Top 100 Kindle Books – Free

Amazon Best Selling Books

27 July 2018

Here are Amazon’s Books Bestseller Lists (Print/Kindle Combined ):

All Books

Fiction Genres

Romance

Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Comics and Graphic Novels

Non-Fiction

Biographies

Christian

History

Religion and Spirituality

 

Audible Best Sellers – Updated Hourly

26 July 2018
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Here are the current best selling Audible audiobooks:

Overall

Genres