Home » Ebooks, Non-US » Record book sales over Christmas signal fightback against digital world

Record book sales over Christmas signal fightback against digital world

29 December 2012

From The Telegraph:

The sale of print books over Christmas was the strongest in over three years, signalling a fightback against digital ‘ebooks’.

. . . .

Celebrity titles were particularly popular, helping sales of physical books break through the £75m mark, the strongest weekly performance since Christmas 2009.

The week’s sales were 20 per cent up on the previous one, and £1.4m higher than the year before.

Authors and publishers have hailed the boost in sales as proof there is still room in the crowded market, where the growing popularity of digital ereaders like the Kindle and tablet computers like the iPad have eaten into book sales.

It comes after digital fiction sales almost trippled during the first half of 2012 while physical books fell away. Similarly children’s books and non-fiction digital titles enjoyed a massive increase in sales.

Link to the rest at The Telegraph and thanks to J.J. for the tip.

Ebooks, Non-US

58 Comments to “Record book sales over Christmas signal fightback against digital world”

  1. I wouldn’t have imagined a scenario where customers would actually fight back against digital books but there ya go they’re mounting an opposition to digital. Are they picketing somewhere in particular? Good for them! Gets them out of the house.

  2. “Celebrity titles were particularly popular.”‘

    P.G.

    Puke…

    “digital fiction sales almost trippled”

    Even teenage scribblers in the smellygraph don’t proof read or edit no more.

    Pah!

    brendan

  3. Factors the Telegraph didn’t consider:

    * It’s Christmas.

    * E-books are books.

    * It’s not a “fightback” if print goes up by 20% and digital goes up by 200%.

    • Exactly David.

      Maybe it never occurred to them that it’s nicer to have a book that’s wrapped and under the tree as a gift, as opposed to a digital file. A little more personal I would say.

      But either way, it’s still a book.

      • Randall, precisely what I was thinking! Although hubs did manage to “wrap” an MP3 for me. He wrapped a memory chip with a note that told me he’d download the music for me later that day.

        And Barbara, SNORK! I, too, envisioned folks armed with books, waving them behind picket lines and whatnot. Ater all, over there they go racing about over pancakes or something, and have cheese-rolling battles or something, so why not book fights?

        • Kat,

          Maybe the thrown book is the most feared weapon in the war on Christmas!? Kinda hard to throw an e-book or stab someone with a thumb-drive. 🙂 They may think we’re arming ourselves or something?

          BTW, I just read your comment/post that PG put up and thought it was very good. If you’d like one of my books for Christmas please grab one off of Amazon. Free until the new year. Closure by Randall Wood. Hope your new year is a good one.

          • Randall, thanks for the heads up on the book, and wishing you a happy new year as well.

          • When you have as many books as I do, you eventually have some you don’t need.

            When you like to throw things as much as I do, eventually you will throw some books you don’t need.

            As will probably come as no surprise to many here, books can be surprisingly effective short-range projectiles.

            • Yes, my cats learned that years ago, Marc.

              Oh, don’t worry. I never HIT them. I throw them in the cat’s direction and it stops doing what it’s not supposed to be doing.

      • Randall:

        You’re exactly right. I’ve bought maybe six new paper books in the past year, four were in the 10 days before Christmas.

        I wonder if countries other than the UK show similar numbers/percentages.

      • Hey, my dad opened up his email, handed me his laptop, and told me to forward two emails containing Kindle gift books to myself. If that’s not personal, I don’t know what is. (No, I have no idea why he couldn’t just have the emails sent to me to begin with.)

        • “I have no idea why he couldn’t just have the emails sent to me to begin with”

          Clare,

          Your father is a traditionalist, and as such, believes in getting the wimmin to do all the work.

          Ask me one on Geography:)

          brendan

    • David Gaughran – Absolutely correct.

      I feel that we also need to remind ourselves that the transition to eBooks is still only touching a small portion of the reading public. DRM and device lock-in are factors holding back eBook sales from where they would be today. When these issues are sorted the transition will be turbo charged.
      Christmas will always (for another decade) be a huge boost for sales of dead trees. Humans like to hand a ‘thing’ to someone for Christmas. It’s human nature. However look at the growth in people’s happy willingness to hand over iTunes vouchers…. the transition will continue. As a Borg friend of mine commonly opines … “Resistance is futile”.

  4. I still buy both print and digital. Though I’m LOVING the new trend of tradpubs putting ebooks on sale. There have been so many sales lately that my Kindle is swimming with excellent books I got on the cheap. One of the sales worked as intended–I bought a book for $2 that I would otherwise never have picked up, got hooked, and now want to buy everything the author ever wrote.

    But when it comes to Christmas, yes, I’d rather buy a print book so I have something to wrap and put under the tree.

    • “Though I’m LOVING the new trend of tradpubs putting ebooks on sale. There have been so many sales lately that my Kindle is swimming with excellent books I got on the cheap.”

      And therein lies the reason why most indies have seen their sales plummet. Readers know and love their trad-pubbed authors and when they can get them at a sensible price why go even looking for, let alone risking, an unknown indie author?

      As the comments on recent posts on TPV shows, indie authors overall are increasingly despondent as they realise the honeymoon is over. Sure, the celebrity indies with the retailers promoting them will be crowing about their sales as usual, and telling everyone anyone can do it.

      The reality is rather different.

      • Readers know and love their trad-pubbed authors and when they can get them at a sensible price why go even looking for, let alone risking, an unknown indie author?

        Because your favourite trad-pubbed authors retire, they stop writing, they lose interest, and eventually they die. The entire system for recruiting their replacements is broken and has been for years. As time goes on, fewer and fewer good writers are going to be willing to put up with being exploited by traditional publishers. There’s no good reason for them to do it now, but thousands are locked into it by contractual obligation and/or force of habit.

        This is a long game, and traditional publishing has no way of winning it. Their entire business model is predicated on restricting the supply of books, and they don’t have the power to do that anymore.

        • “This is a long game, and traditional publishing has no way of winning it.”

          If trad publishing was relying solely on print that would be true, but the simple fact is nearly all the top ebooks sellers are trad pubbed and whereas a year ago the indie spokespeople could point to how indie authors were dominating the charts that sort of claim just isn’t being made anymore.

          There are lots of trad pubbed writers putting out their backlist as indies, and relying on their loyal readership base and their past sales records acquired through being trad pubbed to make a go of things.

          There are a select few indies with promotional deals with the big online retailers who are doing well. But by and large the e-charts are dominated by trad publishers and trad published names and despite all the wishful thinking on TPV to the contrary the trad publishers are doing exceeding well.

          And as recent comments on TPV about recent sales show, the indies without the special relationship with the retailers are seriously struggling.

          I do love the idea that trad publishing will be finished because their authors will die. That could take a while even if successful indies weren’t immediately signing up with the trad publishers and becoming even more successful by doing so.

          The fact that that is exactly what is happening means the trad publishers are going to be around for a long while yet.

          • If trad publishing was relying solely on print that would be true, but the simple fact is nearly all the top ebooks sellers are trad pubbed and whereas a year ago the indie spokespeople could point to how indie authors were dominating the charts that sort of claim just isn’t being made anymore.

            Now take the money being earned by those trad-pubbed ebooks and divide by four, because the publishers are keeping 75 percent of the net. Are the trad-pubbed authors still doing better?

            There are lots of trad pubbed writers putting out their backlist as indies, and relying on their loyal readership base and their past sales records acquired through being trad pubbed to make a go of things.

            Right. In other words, the trad-pubbed authors are abandoning trad pub for their backlists, because they know they won’t get any money via that route. This is a point in favour of trad pub in what way?

            There are a select few indies with promotional deals with the big online retailers who are doing well. But by and large the e-charts are dominated by trad publishers and trad published names and despite all the wishful thinking on TPV to the contrary the trad publishers are doing exceeding well.

            There are a select few trad-pubbed authors whose publishers have chosen to promote them who are doing well. But by and large the trad-pubbed authors are nowhere on the e-charts, the same as they are nowhere on the print charts, and their publishers will presently drop them. This is the way it’s always been. What the very small number of bestsellers are doing is utterly irrelevant to most working writers.

            And as recent comments on TPV about recent sales show, the indies without the special relationship with the retailers are seriously struggling.

            I haven’t seen that myself. I have seen the posts you are talking about, and what you interpret as ‘struggling’ means, in most cases, that ‘the expected holiday increase in sales hasn’t materialized’. This is only a decline by politicians’ logic, where if you spend a million dollars this year, and planned to spend two million next year, if you spend only $1.8 million next year it counts as a 10-percent cut. In the real world, a slowing rate of increase does not equal a decline.

            I do love the idea that trad publishing will be finished because their authors will die. That could take a while even if successful indies weren’t immediately signing up with the trad publishers and becoming even more successful by doing so.

            Are they, in fact, becoming even more successful? I find it interesting that Hugh Howey, for instance, insisted on keeping all e-rights to his books and licensing print only to Simon & Schuster. Evidently he had enough information to persuade him that he would not get a fourfold increase in ebook sales by going with a Big Six publisher — and a fourfold increase is what he would have needed to break even after giving up the standard 75 percent of net.

            No doubt the independent authors who have had large, well-publicized deals with major publishers have had their gross sales increase. Publicity tends to do that. But whether the general run of them have seen a sufficient increase in sales to give them a higher net income than they had before — that remains to be seen. I haven’t seen data on that, and I strongly suspect you haven’t either.

            The fact that that is exactly what is happening means the trad publishers are going to be around for a long while yet.

            That’s what people in the mainframe computer industry were saying in 1983, when the first big price war in PCs took several large players into bankruptcy. PCs were just a fad, and mainframes were here to stay. Within three years after that, the mainframe makers started to disappear — and none of them successfully made the jump to the PC business after that date.

            Things change faster than you think — especially when you think they aren’t going to change at all. Ebooks are a disruptive technology, and existing players in an industry almost never do well when confronted with disruptive innovation. There’s abundant evidence on that from many industries. I don’t see publishing being an exception.

            • You’e right. Things change faster than you think. The problem here is some people live in this fantasy world where the trad publishers are pretending digital doesn’t exist.

              Things are changing fast, in the trad publishers’ favour.

              “Publishers are keeping 75 percent of the net”?

              No, publishers are keeping whatever per cent is left after meeting the costs involved in publishing and getting a book into book stores across the nation / worldwide, as well as on multiple ebook platforms, many of which are off limits to indies or involve more effort to get onto than is likely to be balanced by the returns.

              • You’e right. Things change faster than you think. The problem here is some people live in this fantasy world where the trad publishers are pretending digital doesn’t exist.

                Most of the people I have encountered who were living in that fantasy world were — publishers. They have been actively trying to retard the adoption of ebooks.

                Things are changing fast, in the trad publishers’ favour.

                Name one.

                No, publishers are keeping whatever per cent is left after meeting the costs involved in publishing

                Publishers are indeed keeping 75 percent of the net, and paying their running expenses out of that. Authors get 25 percent of the net, and pay their running expenses out of that. What, did you think publishers were the only people in the world with expenses?

                and getting a book into book stores across the nation / worldwide,

                The cost of getting a book into bookshops applies only to printed books. No part of that cost need be, or should be, borne by an ebook. It certainly is not an excuse to reduce the author’s share of ebook revenues.

                as well as on multiple ebook platforms,

                I know scores of self-published authors who do that by themselves for very little cost.

                many of which are off limits to indies

                Name one. Hint: If you can get there via an aggregator who takes 10 percent of the net, it’s not off limits.

                or involve more effort to get onto than is likely to be balanced by the returns.

                Name one. Hint: If you can get there via an aggregator who takes 10 percent of the net, it is worth a hell of a lot of effort as opposed to going through a publisher who takes 75 percent.

      • And therein lies the reason why most indies have seen their sales plummet.

        Cite figures, please.

        • Why? PG stated here that Mrs. PG had seen a rose in sales. No-one is asking PG to cite figures. Amazon regularly makes claims about sales of both ebooks and devices without citing figures.

          The reference I made was to the numerous commenters here on TPV who over several recent posts have expressed concern at the slump in sales. Not hoped for Holidays sales not materialising but serious slumps dating pre-Christmas.

          “The cost of getting a book into bookshops applies only to printed books.”

          Given print sales account for some 70-80% of book sales I’d say that’s worth taking into account. Show me the best-selling indie-published POD books that sell even remotely in numbers comparable to the successful trad published authors.

          When JK Rowling went indie with her Potter books, having become that huge success in the first place thanks to the trad publishers, she then went and signed up her new book with the trad publishers rather than go indie with a fresh book.

          • Why? PG stated here that Mrs. PG had seen a rose in sales. No-one is asking PG to cite figures. Amazon regularly makes claims about sales of both ebooks and devices without citing figures.

            Why? Because you are making an extraordinary claim, and the onus is on you to provide evidence. I’m not going to take your say-so that

            Given print sales account for some 70-80% of book sales I’d say that’s worth taking into account.

            Nonsense. The cost of getting printed books into bookshops has always been borne by the sales of printed books. That should continue to be the case. Why should readers of ebooks pay extra to subsidize readers of print?

            Show me the best-selling indie-published POD books that sell even remotely in numbers comparable to the successful trad published authors.

            Red herring. If a printed book is selling in those numbers, only an idiot is going to go on producing it by POD. And a rich idiot, too, because it costs a lot of money to do POD runs of that magnitude. The fact that self-publishing authors are not rich idiots who express their idiocy in a particular way is not evidence for your position.

            When JK Rowling went indie with her Potter books, having become that huge success in the first place thanks to the trad publishers,

            How she became a huge success is irrelevant. That happened in the 1990s, when traditional publishers were the only game around. They made sure they were the only game, by exercising cartel power over distribution and preventing self-publishers from having access to retail stores. That strategy is gone; that century is gone. Try dealing with the situation that exists today, not the situation that ceased to exist years ago, OK?

            she then went and signed up her new book with the trad publishers rather than go indie with a fresh book.

            What does this prove? Is it meant to prove that all successful authors of the future will be trad-pubbed (which is what you appear to be claiming)? Or that all self-published authors are doomed to failure (which you also seem to be claiming)? Does it, in fact, have any bearing at all on the hundreds of thousands of writers who are NOT the best-selling single living author in the world?

            Do please try to stay somewhere in the vicinity of relevance.

            • Crumbs — hit SUBMIT without finishing a sentence. Let me try again:

              Why? PG stated here that Mrs. PG had seen a rose in sales. No-one is asking PG to cite figures. Amazon regularly makes claims about sales of both ebooks and devices without citing figures.

              Why? Because you are making an extraordinary claim, and the onus is on you to provide evidence. I’m not going to take your say-so that self-published authors’ sales are generally down.

              • There’s nothing remotely extraordinary about the statement. What is extraordinary is that you are demanding figures from one party while happily accepting statements from the side you agree with despite the fact that no figures are forthcoming.

                On POD I refer you again to the question I asked, not the one you’d prefer to answer.

                • What is extraordinary is that you are demanding figures from one party while happily accepting statements from the side you agree with despite the fact that no figures are forthcoming.

                  Bull. I have sales figures from a considerable number of self-published authors, and in every single case the figures were zero in 2008, became non-zero at some subsequent date, and generally rose thereafter. In none of the cases for which I have recent data has there been any substantial falling-off in recent months. Of course I don’t have anyone’s data for December, because December isn’t over yet and the authors themselves don’t have that data. So if it’s that data you want to insist on, then insist away; you’re not getting it — not now. But by the same token, YOU don’t have that data either.

                  Again: On what do you base your claim that most self-publishing authors’ sales are down? As far as I know, it is a pure, naked assertion on your part. Your stubborn refusal to cite any data, or even to claim that any data exist, does not constitute data. Your saying ‘Nyaah, nyaah, you haven’t got any data either’ is also not data. At the best it would be the logical fallacy of tu quoque. As it happens, it is an outright lie, and a foolish one. You are in no position to tell me what data I have or haven’t got, because you don’t know and never asked.

                  On POD I refer you again to the question I asked, not the one you’d prefer to answer.

                  The answer is that OF COURSE there are no POD bestsellers. I just explained to you why — it’s because POD is not a cost-effective way of producing books in the quantity that bestsellers sell in. You are asking for something that would never happen no matter who was publishing the book in question.

                • Really Tom, get a grip.

                  “Of course I don’t have anyone’s data for December, because December isn’t over yet and the authors themselves don’t have that data.”

                  Let me let you into a little secret, Tom. Amazon and B&N make stats available on a daily – even hourly – basis. Plenty of authors have plenty of stats for December. What planet are you on?

                  “On what do you base your claim that most self-publishing authors’ sales are down? As far as I know, it is a pure, naked assertion on your part. Your stubborn refusal to cite any data, or even to claim that any data exist, does not constitute data. As it happens, it is an outright lie, and a foolish one.”

                  As I stated originally, evidence from comments on TPV in the last few days show a clear downward trend in indie sales.

                  PG asserted, with no evidence whatsoever provided, that Mrs PG’s sales were up. Fantastic. Good on ya, Mrs. PG. I don’t disbelieve him or her or call either a liar just because PG didn’t provide proof in triplicate. That’s more your style, as we have just seen.

                  However, the comments in that SAME post show a very different picture. PG asked how other indies were faring:

                  http://www.thepassivevoice.com/12/2012/amazon-ebook-sales-up-down-flat/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ThePassiveVoice+%28The+Passive+Voice%29

                  These are quotes from some of the comments from just this one post. There have been several posts in similar vein.

                  This December has been my worst month ever. No, I should say Worst Month EVAR, to come near capturing how very bad this month has been for me. – Camille

                  Sales have been flat as a pancake since Thanksgiving. The upside is they can’t get any flatter without turning concave. – Pat

                  SOMEBODY must be doing great because my author rank plummeted 100,000 ranks since the 22nd.
                  Overall I’ve had the worst month since June. – Michael

                  Waaaaaaay down on kindle. – Lily

                  Dead as a doornail on Amazon, but Sony, Kobo and Apple are picking up the slack. – Suzan

                  Sales in December were extremely flat – Jonathan

                  Down on Amazon. It’s been a slow downward trend since the start of September. The others are also down, but less so. –
                  Lynn

                  My December has been dreadful for sales so far. – Cora

                  One word: flat. – EC

                  I released a new book two days before Thanksgiving and saw strong sales . . . until Black Friday when my sales completely fell off a cliff. John

                  My Amazon sales have been declining steadily since December of last year. My rebound into sales after last year’s first Select day (12/23/11) was 400 books a day — now it’s 4 per day. Rethinking how or whether I can ever make any money in this business. It’s fair to say that I’m discouraged! –
                  Patrice

                  My sales have gone down since September… December has, frankly, been disappointing. – A

                  Up to December 18 or thereabouts I was averaging 50-60 sales a week across 5 titles, with about 95% of sales from one title, with an overall slight upward trend. Suddenly, just before Christmas, sales went to 0. Yes, zilch for days, until yesterday (Dec 27) when three sold, with one return making it at grand total of 2. My sales ranks have gone to hell. – Helen

                  Sales are down in Dec by maybe 25%. – Skye

                  Of course, all these indie authors could be making “outright and foolish” lies on TPV, but somehow I doubt it.

                • Let me let you into a little secret, Tom. Amazon and B&N make stats available on a daily – even hourly – basis. Plenty of authors have plenty of stats for December. What planet are you on?

                  I’m on the planet where December hasn’t ended yet. I’m also on a planet where even those authors who publicize their sales figures tend to do so only once a month, and to break down their figures on a monthly basis. They won‘t be releasing their figures for December until December is over.

                  Is that good enough for you, or do you want to insult me some more?

                  PG asserted, with no evidence whatsoever provided, that Mrs PG’s sales were up. Fantastic. Good on ya, Mrs. PG.

                  And you discounted that report entirely, and decided that she was unrepresentative and those commenters who reported decreased sales represented the real trend. On what basis? You still haven’t offered any. I should think that if you had any such basis you would have given it by now, so I incline towards the belief that you haven’t got one.

                  I don’t disbelieve him or her or call either a liar just because PG didn’t provide proof in triplicate. That’s more your style, as we have just seen.

                  Ah, I see you do want to insult me some more.

                  Look, you: YOU told ME that I HAD NO DATA. That is a LIE. It is an obvious lie, because you were not in a position to know what data I had; you did not ask, you are not privy to my sources of information, and I happen to know perfectly well that your statement was false. When I catch you lying to me, I am going to say so. It has nothing to do with ‘proof in triplicate’. It has to do with telling me something about myself that I know is false.

                  As I stated originally, evidence from comments on TPV in the last few days show a clear downward trend in indie sales.

                  Some of those commenters gave no numbers, and few gave enough numbers to allow any quantitative assessment of their positions. The commenters were all self-selected, and do not constitute a valid sample of self-publishing authors as a whole. Self-selected anecdotal evidence + no numbers != data.

                  By the way, of the 14 comments you listed, three describe their sales as ‘flat’. ‘Flat’ does not mean ‘declining’; it means ‘remaining at the same level’; referring to a function on a graph, it means ‘having no slope’. These comments don’t mean what you think they mean; they are not even anecdotal evidence in support of your view.

                  Of course, all these indie authors could be making “outright and foolish” lies on TPV, but somehow I doubt it.

                  No; the only person making an outright and foolish lie was yourself, when you told me I did not have any information, and I knew perfectly well that I had.

                  Now to move on: Let us grant for the sake of argument that self-publishing writers as a whole are having a down month in December. There are many possible reasons for this, starting with the generally bad state of the economy. You suggest one possible reason — that traditional publishers have reconquered the market and independents are now destined to go to the wall. You give no evidence for this; it is merely asserted, and all other alternatives are ignored. You claim that conditions are rapidly changing in traditional publishers’ favour. I asked you to name one thing that has changed in their favour; you still have not answered. You claim that self-publishers are being frozen out of important ebook retail markets, but when pressed, you did not name any such retailers either. Whenever you are pressed for specifics, you handwave and claim that you should not have to provide data.

                  My data indicate that self-published ebooks, in the course of less than four years, have gone from approximately zero to a small but significant percentage of the market. PG’s posts (and many other sources) have shown that publishers, after reacting initially with denial, have responded to this development with collusion, price-fixing, with gouging of authors, unilateral rewriting of contracts, misreporting of royalties owed — in short, with all the reactions of an industry in a state of crisis and a condition of panic, which is trying to save itself by gouging its customers and stiffing its suppliers. These are not the actions of thriving businesses, and they have grown worse over time. Simon & Schuster’s entry into the vanity-press business, charging up to $25,000 to whatever suckers will pay for a listing in an off-brand catalogue not used by S&S’s customers, represents the low-water mark for publishers so far; and that happened only last month.

                  You appear to take glee in announcing that self-publishing is doomed, that the iron grip of the traditional publishers is about to be fully restored and extended to the ebook trade; and yet you have no evidence that any of this is actually happening, except anecdotal reports from a handful of disappointed authors (contradicted by other anecdotal reports which you blithely ignore). You’ll pardon me if I think your case is so weak as to be utterly risible, and that you have shown questionable judgement and a distinct lack of intellectual rigour in your manner of espousing it.

                • By the way, I note that you have yet to answer my questions about these alleged ebook venues that do not accept self-published work or erect barriers that are too difficult for self-publishers to get over. Instead, you are stonewalling over a silly and irrelevant question about POD, and a frankly risible claim that I have no data when I perfectly well know that I have. I’m beginning to seriously suspect that you are just trolling, and I do NOT appreciate it.

                • Really, Tom, trolling for what purpose? I’m an indie co-author with close to a quarter million indie sales behind me. I have no axe to grind against either indie or trad publishers. We have books out with both sides and have no major issues with either.

                • Excellent setting out of your points throughout your posts. The facts support your assessment right down the line.

                • I’m sorry, Howard, but which one of us did you mean — me, or ‘mark williams international’?

                • “I’m sorry, Howard, but which one of us did you mean — me, or ‘mark williams international’?”

                  YOU 🙂 (apols) Some people are so mired in their set notions that the are unable to accept or cope with change. I see no merit in any of Mr William’s claims.

      • Well, this newly-published indie author isn’t despondent. I’m in it for the long haul. And I’m full of confidence.

        Slowly but surely, the word is getting out. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, and frankly, if I get to the point where I can quit my day job because of my writing income, I will consider myself a successful indie writer.

        Let’s talk in a year or three and see what happens. I’ve waited all my adult life to get to this point. I can wait a while longer.

        • Well put, Meryl. 🙂

          Twenty years ago, all I wanted to do was write and publish, but I quit on that dream. I won’t make that mistake again.

          A fanbase is built one reader at a time, over the long haul. I have the rest of my life to do that.

      • Let’s be careful not to let spirited debate move into personal attacks or petty arguments, please.

      • I don’t care who publishes the books I buy (trad or indie). I only care how good the books are and how much I’m paying for them. I won’t pay a high price for an author I have no experience with; I’ve been burned too many times. Either most books are really bad, or I’m a really picky reader, because 19 out of 20 books I try by authors new to me, I do not like. This includes traditionally published books.

        And yet I enjoy the treasure hunt. I like looking for that book, that author, who will rock my world. I try new authors when their books are on sale ($1 or $2 will induce me to try), or I’ll check out their books at the library. For some reason I don’t read a lot of free books. Not sure why–I think I am prone to a psychological effect where I feel it won’t be any good if it was free. I have a whole shelf full of free books I picked up at writing conferences. Nearly all of them are unread. I’d rather pay a couple of bucks or borrow a book from the library.

        When I do find a treasure, I trumpet that author all over social media and buy all of his or her backlist (usually at full price). Once I’m in love with an author, I’m happy to throw money at her. Take my money! Write more books!

      • “And therein lies the reason why most indies have seen their sales plummet.”

        From when? How do you know?

        • Terrence, see the long list of quotes, above, from indie authors who have said exactly that here on TPV in just one post.

          • So: a post where PG invited people to kvetch about their declining sales produced a number of writers kvetching about their declining sales. Ever hear of selection bias?

            • “I have sales figures from a considerable number of self-published authors…”

              So let’s get this straight: the indie authors you know (or say you know – you have provided no evidence, which apparently is oh so important for everyone else to do) are somehow a legitimate scientific sample and can be quoted as gospel.

              By contrast the many people who commented on TPV, and which I have provided evidence for, are biased and kvetching.

              Incidentally, PG did not invite anyone to kvetch, least of all about declining sales. He asked a simple question about how indies were faring.

              The many honest responses that happen not to fit your preconceived and simplistic notion of indies-good / trads-bad are now dismissed as “kvetching”.

              I do hope they’re all reading this. I’m sure they’ll be delighted to learn how much you value their contribution to the debate on TPV.

              Sadly it’s 10pm here on GMT and I have some reading to catch up on, so shall leave you to insult more TPV commenters at your leisure.

              • So let’s get this straight: the indie authors you know (or say you know – you have provided no evidence, which apparently is oh so important for everyone else to do) are somehow a legitimate scientific sample and can be quoted as gospel.

                I never said that, and you, as usual, are trying to obfuscate my point by misrepresentation. I never claimed to have a legitimate scientific sample; I pointed out that my evidence, such as it is, does not agree with yours, and as far as I can tell, mine and yours are much of a muchness. You can’t conclude anything from either of them. But you are the one drawing conclusions and making grand pronouncements about the death of self-publishing — not I.

                By contrast the many people who commented on TPV, and which I have provided evidence for, are biased and kvetching.

                Yes, indeed, you ‘provided evidence’. You cherry-picked, from a much larger comment thread, 14 comments that you thought supported your view — three of which actually did not, for they described their sales as ‘flat’ — and ignored the rest.

                I did not say that the people making those comments were biased. I said that your sample is subject to selection bias, because those people were self-selected. It’s well known that people are more likely to report bad news than good; the human need to complain about one’s troubles is stronger than the need to share word of one’s successes.

                Sadly it’s 10pm here on GMT and I have some reading to catch up on, so shall leave you to insult more TPV commenters at your leisure.

                The only person I have insulted is you, and you richly deserved it, for telling stories about me based on information you never even attempted to acquire.

                • Tom, just calm down. mate..

                  Someone just emailed me that you were going OTT so I popped back in to see. Seems they were quite right.

                  Please, please, please, explain how my comment “the honeymoon is over” equates to your ridiculous assertion that I have made – YOUR WORDS – “grand pronouncements about the death of self-publishing”.

                  Excuse me, but where are you getting this BS from? I’m a successful indie author looking forward to many, many more years as an indie author, hopefully with further success to match. I’m also looking forward to many years working with our agent and our trad publisher.

                  Tom, unlike you I don’t have any axe to grind supporting one side over the other.

                  If you can show me where I have ever, ever made any pronouncement, grand or otherwise, about “the death of self-publishing” then it might be worth addressing your other points.

                  But as you seem intent on accusing me of making statements I have never made there seems little point.

                  But now I must get back to the indie ebook I’m reading.

              • Hey Mark, I just want to point out that people were talking about AMAZON sales. If you check out the comments further, a number of folks cited sales were up on other platforms (myself included).

                So you are both right – some indie authors are seeing their Amazon sales flat or dipping, BUT for a lot of us, other retailers are taking up the slack and/or growing apace.

                🙂

          • That’s a self-selected sample. It tells us nothing about the experiences of thousands of authors. I doubt publishers rely on that.

      • I’m not despondent. I’m annoyed/stressed about this month, because A: I’m kind of paying a debt for family, and B: it is human nature to worry about a potential trend… But I wouldn’t say I’m despondent. I’m not giving up.

        • You’d better not give up! I’m looking forward to a certain sequel, and maybe more Kintaran shorts, or –be still my beating heart– a novel…

  5. Here’s the buried lead:

    The week’s sales were 20 per cent up on the previous one, and £1.4m higher than the year before.

    The first number is a pseudo-statistic: it is given without comparison to anything valid. We don’t know if a 20-percent rise in sales the last week before Christmas is good, bad, or just the same as usual. It is therefore meaningless without additional data.

    The second number is the tell. Christmas book sales were up by £1.4m over the same week in 2011. That is, they were up about 1.9 percent. A quick search informs me that the inflation rate in the UK for 2012 as a whole was about 2.7 percent. In other words, adjusted for inflation, printed book sales are DOWN 0.8 percent.

    The rest of the article is merely a silly attempt to spin this downward trend as good news for print and bad news for ebooks.

    • Good catch.
      The same data can be spun as; “People who hadn’t bought a single book all year and had no idea what else to gift lifted pbooks sales 20% from the week before but the inflation-adjusted revenues were still down from last year.”

      Hardly much of a fightback.
      I wonder, is the Telegraph in imminent financial trouble?
      Or just riding the slow death siral of the rest of the newspaper industry?

      • The Telegraph has carried a series of stories over the last year by paper fetishists lamenting the smell and caress and ‘weight’ of their beloved dead trees.

  6. That article doesn’t take into account the large number of free Kindle books that were available over the holiday season. And of course, a newspaper is going to tout any increase in sales of printed books. Anyone out there get the connection? Paper books, paper newspapers. As for me, I would call this a puff filler piece on a holiday surge. Not a sign of a coming trend. Anyone who thinks ebooks are just going to dwindle while paper books will increase is simply an idiot with no mind for the future.

  7. I went into Waterstones (UK chain bookshop) a couple of times around Christmas and it was *packed*. And if you wanted to buy a book, you had to stand in a very long queue.

    I also had a non-fiction book out this autumn and print sales have been double ebook sales. That’s just from online retailers.

    Indeed, the print book is not dead.

    • Oh, the print book will endure for a long time to come.
      That isn’t at risk. Even indie publishers will still be doing pbook editions of the bigger sellers.

      What *is* at risk are the traditional glass tower multinationals with their traditional miniscule royalties and enormous overheads.
      Those will keep on merging and muddling through until the last survivor runs out of celebrities to exploit. And that is going to take a very long time.

      The bigger they are, the longer it takes for them to fade into irrelevance.

  8. I bought my daughter a box set of Percy Jackson books for Christmas. I must be actively fighting back against ebooks!

    • I asked for print books for Christmas, because I prefer opening a physical book to look up or read about something I need to know and have a decent list of titles I want for my research library.

      We also bought several Warrior Cats titles and The Dark is Rising sequence for our daughter in paperback.

      Guess I’m actively fighting back too, never mind all those ebooks we buy for entertainment reading. =P

      • Ah-ha! So p-books are tools of the war machine, and e-books are tools of the entertainment industry…
        I would not have guessed that. 😀

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