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Vimes
12-30-2009, 07:37 PM
Read this article today, about how millions of books get pulped every year because retailers are allowed to send unsold copies back to the publishers:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1239252/How-77million-books-year-turned-pulp-fiction.html

That wasn't a surprise as I've read that before, but I am really shocked by this bit:

'Nielsen Bookscan has found that of 86,000 new titles published in the UK in 2009, 59,000 sold an average of 18 copies.'

This bit, too:

'Another publishing insider said: 'Literary publishers and reviewers are patronising, all in bed together. They think they know what sells, but their sales are little better than self-published books. '

An average of 18 copies?!! I could sell more than that by hawking my book on a market stall myself! Maybe I should go down the self-publishing route after all! A couple of months ago I read that an established mid-list author was making most of his money from Kindle e-books (the ones he had retained the rights to)... though of course he must have built up a readership the traditional way first to be selling so well electronically.

Still... it makes you think...

(Mods, if someone else has already posted about this article, please feel free to delete!)

ChristineR
12-30-2009, 07:49 PM
The overwhelming majority of the those 59,000 would either be self-published themselves, or "assisted self-publishing" (like Lulu or CreateSpace) or vanity published, or such award winning titles as Getting Started with your Superdeluxe Laser 4002 XP--a copy of which is given away with every Superdeluxe Laser 4002 XP sold, and which is downloadable for free on the Superdeluxe website, but which you can in fact buy just in case your four-year old flushes the original and you don't want to be bothered printing one out.

They don't even attempt to break it all down, but I'm fairly sure Neilsen Bookscan would count anything with an ISBN.

gothicangel
12-30-2009, 08:35 PM
Let's just say the DM aren't the Literary writer's best friend.

More interested in kiss n tells and Jordan et al than literary excellence.

Richard White
12-30-2009, 08:43 PM
If you had a breakdown of those numbers, I'd lay dollars to doughnuts that of the 59,000 that only sold an average of 18 copies - 58,900 of them were self/vanity published.

Uncle Jim has pointed out the average non-commercial book sells around 75 copies in its lifetime. However, we also know some PA books sell 0 copies.

Commerically published books generally sell at a much higher rate than that.

Celia Cyanide
12-30-2009, 08:46 PM
They don't even attempt to break it all down, but I'm fairly sure Neilsen Bookscan would count anything with an ISBN.

I hope so. Because if those are not self published books, that's really bad.

ChristineR
12-30-2009, 08:52 PM
I hope so. Because if those are not self published books, that's really bad.

Not necessarily--like I said, it almost certainly includes specialty books that are not intended to sell at all, or sell in bookstores at all. From what I can tell, Bookscan monitors sales at select bookstores, which means that they aren't looking at many books at all--government reports, technical manuals, almost all self/subsidy/vanity pubbed. But I doubt if Bookscan makes a distinction between Lulu sold in a bookstore, Lulu sold online, Lulu sold at a specialty store, and Lulu novels.

waylander
12-30-2009, 08:53 PM
All sorts of things get counted as books because they have an ISBN, calendars for example.

Jamesaritchie
12-30-2009, 09:04 PM
'Nielsen Bookscan has found that of 86,000 new titles published in the UK in 2009, 59,000 sold an average of 18 copies.'

Nielsen Bookscan is not intended to be used this way, and makes no sense whatsoever when used by those who simply take raw numbers and post them as if they have any meaning at all. They do not.

The numbers are not only meaningless, they make no more sense than saying 'Nielsen Bookscan has found that of 86,000 new titles published in the UK in 2009, 59,000 sold as ducks that became rabbits.

Phaeal
12-30-2009, 09:47 PM
I hate it when my ducks turn into rabbits. If I wanted a rabbit, I would have BOUGHT a rabbit.

veinglory
12-30-2009, 09:57 PM
Indeed, they are self-published by people who don't even put them on a market stall. They just put them up on some unvisited website and wonder why nobody buys their deathless, and value-less, prose.

Momento Mori
12-30-2009, 11:55 PM
Ah yes, the Flaily Wail. If they're not attacking pinko liberals, then it's all the fault of immigrants.

There is some truth buried within the hyperbole of that article.


Daily Mail Article:
Cherie Blair who is said to have received a 1million advance for her autobiography. But the book has sold only 23,412 hardbacks and 10,240 paperbacks since 2008.

Celebrity autobiographies have been a massive disappointment on the sales front this year with Cherie Blair being one of the biggest flops (although personally, I doubt she got a million quid advance) but Peter Kaye, who had a massive hit with an autobiography a couple of years ago, has seen sales fall way below expectations this year.

Some publishers were banking on the trend and did pay obscene amounts of money for autobiographies from celebs they thought the public was interested in.


Daily Mail Article:
Julian Barnes’s Nothing To Be Frightened Of was published in March 2008 but has sold only 8,849.

By contrast and showing the power of some well-placed endorsement Barnes' earlier novel Arthur & George, boosted by Richard and Judy, has sold 500,000 in four years.


This though was a bit misleading. Arthur & George was a work of fiction shortlisted for a number of awards, including The Booker. Nothing To Be Frightened Of is non-fiction and about Barnes' preoccupation with death. They were never going to have comparable sales figures, which was reflected in the campaign for it.

MM

Rarri
12-31-2009, 12:03 AM
Let's just say the DM aren't the Literary writer's best friend.

More interested in kiss n tells and Jordan et al than literary excellence.

Ha ha, i can't imagine the DM even using the phrase 'et al' in an article.

Eddyz Aquila
12-31-2009, 12:46 AM
All these sales figures make no sense. In times of recession, people are looking for cheap entertainment, and books are one! Book sales should be up, not down.

Or maybe people are starting to get picky and research more what they want to read.

C.M.C.
12-31-2009, 01:17 AM
The numbers have looked like that for a long time. There simply aren't enough people out there to make every book a best-seller.

Vimes
12-31-2009, 01:23 AM
Wow, I had no idea Nielsen counted self-pubbed books! In that case, the publishing industry is not in the meltdown I thought it was after reading that article! (Curse you, Daily Mail, for your inflammatory articles... I will have to go back to reading The Daily Star.)

Thanks guys, I was thinking this morning that even if I got traditionally published it wouldn't be the holy grail I thought it would be. Panic averted at my end!

Hope everyone has a great New Year... My resolution is to get published in 2010..!

Eddyz Aquila
12-31-2009, 01:26 AM
The numbers have looked like that for a long time. There simply aren't enough people out there to make every book a best-seller.

Obviously. But OVERALL book sales should be up, and 59000 books selling 18 or less copies is something intriguing to say the least...

gothicangel
12-31-2009, 01:39 AM
Wow, I had no idea Nielsen counted self-pubbed books! In that case, the publishing industry is not in the meltdown I thought it was after reading that article! (Curse you, Daily Mail, for your inflammatory articles... I will have to go back to reading The Daily Star.)

Thanks guys, I was thinking this morning that even if I got traditionally published it wouldn't be the holy grail I thought it would be. Panic averted at my end!

Hope everyone has a great New Year... My resolution is to get published in 2010..!

Wow, quite a swing in reading material. Tory to Socialist in one sentence!

Jamesaritchie
12-31-2009, 01:43 AM
Obviously. But OVERALL book sales should be up, and 59000 books selling 18 or less copies is something intriguing to say the least...

It might be, if they were legitimately published books, or if Bookscan made any sense at all when used this way. The truth is that many of these "published books" probably didn't sell a single copy, and shouldn't have.

The only thing intriguing about such numbers is why so many dolts continue to use Bookscan in such an idiotic manner, and why people pay any attention at all to such meaningless drivel.

Old Hack
12-31-2009, 02:31 AM
Nielsen Bookscan tracks sales via ISBNs. So anything with an ISBN slapped onto it will be counted: which means that all self-published books which have ISBNs on them will be included in this score, as will any promotional books designed to be given away with Happy Meals and so on. However, Bookscan only notices sales made through certain retailers--mostly bookshops--and can't keep track of sales made through other routes, or of copies "sold" via promotional routes. Consequently, it's accepted that Bookscan under-reports, and can only be relied upon for sales of the sort of books which sell in bookshops. And even for those books, the figures are likely to be under-reported by about a third.

Self-published books almost always score low on Bookscan reports because so few of them are sold through bookshops. Most are sold online, or hand-to-hand, which is why I prefer to use numbers printed as a more reliable indicator of the sales levels for POD self-published books. But the sheer number of books which are self-published, with ISBNs, and which fail to sell any copies at all via the bookstore route, means that averages like this one appear far lower than they really are.

(Let me know if that makes no sense: it's late here, and I'm tired. I'll try again in the morning if required.)

ChristineR
12-31-2009, 03:28 AM
I think the difference is that a lot of things that used to be "published" without an ISBN will now have one. I'm thinking of things like course notes, which used to photocopied but which you can now easily offer bound on Lulu, complete with free ISBN, at essentially no cost to the professor/author. Since it has an ISBN, your students may order it from any bookstore. Therefore there are many more supposed books being published.

Old Hack, you did a much better job of explaining it than I could. :D

blacbird
12-31-2009, 03:39 AM
I'm thinking of things like course notes, which used to photocopied but which you can now easily offer bound on Lulu, complete with free ISBN, at essentially no cost to the professor/author.

Lulu is now offering free ISBNs?

caw

ChaosTitan
12-31-2009, 04:36 AM
The only thing intriguing about such numbers is why so many dolts continue to use Bookscan in such an idiotic manner, and why people pay any attention at all to such meaningless drivel.

Because some folks seem to delight in forecasting the imminent demise of publishing as we know it? :Shrug:

kaitie
12-31-2009, 08:06 AM
Let's just say the DM aren't the Literary writer's best friend.

More interested in kiss n tells and Jordan et al than literary excellence.

I was thinking the same thing. Anything that comes from them should be taken with a grain of salt.

Xelebes
12-31-2009, 09:15 AM
Because some folks seem to delight in forecasting the imminent demise of publishing as we know it? :Shrug:

They're trying to instill fear in the audience to read more physical material via books but more importantly, their newspaper.

ChristineR
12-31-2009, 04:53 PM
Lulu is now offering free ISBNs?

caw

Yes, but it might be one of those funky ISBN that is only good at Amazon and Lulu. The free ISBN book is only for sale at those places. I'm not sure how this would appear to Bookscan, but obviously if it shows up on somebody's list of published books all these books would have zero sales to Bookscan because they cannot be sold at outlets Bookscan tracks. Apparently the free ISBN books do get into Books In Print, which is probably what Bookscan is looking at. I believe what you pay for when you get the "real" ISBN is for Lulu to ship your books to Ingram and for Ingram to keep them in their databases.

In any case, you also have outfits like PublishAmerica which offer "real" ISBN for free. If you buy them a thousand at a time, they're only $1.75 each.

Jamesaritchie
12-31-2009, 05:51 PM
Lulu is now offering free ISBNs?

caw

Yes, but they retain ownership, which is weird, but, I suppose, manageable.

Jamesaritchie
12-31-2009, 05:55 PM
Because some folks seem to delight in forecasting the imminent demise of publishing as we know it? :Shrug:

It sure seems that way. But Napoleon may have explained it when he said, "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence."

seun
01-02-2010, 05:49 PM
Well, bugger me with a prize winning cucumber. The Mail having a misleading slant to a non-story?

Whatever next?

Linda Adams
01-02-2010, 07:24 PM
The number is misleading--and also old news. Miss Snark (http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2006/11/sky-is-falling-sky-is-falling.html) talked about Bookscan's numbers on her blog. Short version: It tracks ISBN numbers, not books, and each time a book comes in a new variation like being released to paperback, it has a new ISBN number. It doesn't track sales to libraries or book clubs, or even Wal-Mart.

Tedium
01-03-2010, 10:24 AM
The number is misleading--and also old news. Miss Snark (http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2006/11/sky-is-falling-sky-is-falling.html) talked about Bookscan's numbers on her blog. Short version: It tracks ISBN numbers, not books, and each time a book comes in a new variation like being released to paperback, it has a new ISBN number. It doesn't track sales to libraries or book clubs, or even Wal-Mart.

This may be a dumb question, but if Bookscan is so unreliable (even by their own admission) then what purpose does their service serve?

Who, besides sensational journalists, would use such unreliable or misleading facts?

ChaosTitan
01-03-2010, 07:12 PM
This may be a dumb question, but if Bookscan is so unreliable (even by their own admission) then what purpose does their service serve?

Who, besides sensational journalists, would use such unreliable or misleading facts?

The numbers aren't very good for making sweeping, generalized statements (sort of like the article). But booksellers and publishers can use the numbers to track sales of specific items in the market--they just have to remember the numbers aren't a complete tally of all product sold.

Jamesaritchie
01-03-2010, 09:14 PM
This may be a dumb question, but if Bookscan is so unreliable (even by their own admission) then what purpose does their service serve?

Who, besides sensational journalists, would use such unreliable or misleading facts?


Bookscan is not unreliable, when used correctly. If you use Bookscan to look at specific books, you can get a reliable estimate of sales, even though bookscan only reports certain sales from certain places.

Bookscan is also very good if publisher A wants to compare sales of a certian type of book within a given line to sales of similar books from publisher B or C or D.

It's when you use the raw numbers to get averages that Bookscan is worthless, as it has to be.