Just re-posting our previous blog, which was the victim of a hacking attack. Please bear with us as we reconstruct (1/4/18).
Reality Bites: Just How Well Does the Average Book Sell?
Think you’re the next Steven King or Agatha Christie? Have the plans for your 20 room mansion and country estate primed and ready to go? Read this first.
As we’ve stated before, if you want to be rich and famous, study ACTING. If you’ve planned all your life to make your fortune writing conventional books, you might need to think again.
Here are the hard cold facts, directly quoted from an article in Publisher’s Weekly:
… in 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies.
Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies.
Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies.
The average book in America sells about 500 copies.
Those blockbusters are a minute anomaly: only 10 books sold more than a million copies last year, and fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000.
Stunning. Painful. But it’s the truth. Fortunately, however, if you’re a great writer, you can now publish your work, virtually cost-free, by choosing the e-book route.
In the not-so-distant past, you’d have to make a rather hefty capital investment just to get a 3000-copy-run of a print book, then market, sell, and ship it; now, you can go from manuscript to book to reader’s hands all by yourself, if you’re willing to do a bit of legwork on your own.
So cheer up; reality bites, but it’s ALWAYS better to know, than not to know.
Good writing never goes out of style. First published 10/8/2011.
A Most Worthy Project: Archive.org Founder Archives Physical Books for Posterity
This is a must-read for any book lover: Archive.org founder and data mining pioneer Brewster Kahle has undertaken the gargantuan task of preserving one copy of every available physical book in the world.
“We must keep the past even as we’re inventing a new future,” he said. “If the Library of Alexandria had made a copy of every book and sent it to India or China, we’d have the other works of Aristotle, the other plays of Euripides. One copy in one institution is not good enough.”
20,000 volumes arrive each week and are catalogued and then stored in shipping containers located in a warehouse just north of San Francisco.
Here are the details, courtesy of David Streitfeld’s fascinating piece in the New York Times, published in Spring 2012.
Learn more about the Physical Archive here.
Harper-Collins Settles; Amazon e-book Pricing Will Fluctuate
As an apparent result of the US government’s anti-trust lawsuit (mentioned earlier), Harper-Collins has announced that its prices for Kindle books will, in effect, no longer be fixed. : )
Bloomberg reports that a spokesperson for Harper-Collins sent an emailed statement that “Dynamic pricing and experimentation will continue to be a priority for us as we move forward.”
Colson Whitehead’s Rules for Writing
Here’s a fun piece from the New York Times: Colson Whitehead shares his advice: How to Write.
Apple Accused of Violating Chinese Writers’ Copyrights
In an interesting twist, twelve Chinese authors have accused Apple Inc. of violating their copyrights by publishing and selling their works without their permission.
US Justice Department: Price Fixing of E-books Out; Apple, HarperCollins, and More
The Wall Street Journal (a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation) has reported that another of News Corp’s properties, the publishing house HarperCollins, has been informed of an impending US Justice Department lawsuit alleging antitrust violations regarding e-book pricing. Other parties involved in this include Apple, Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, and MacMillan. Settlement talks have apparently been underway for some time.
If you’re a Kindle owner, you probably remember a little flap between Macmillan and Amazon when Macmillan refused to comply with Amazon’s $9.99 Kindle book pricing structure. Amazon briefly pulled their offerings until Amazon capitulated [now, we may know why]. Prices rose 50%+ and people like me stopped buying Macmillan e-books with witless abandon : ) [It’s a PRINCIPLE thing].
The WSJ piece is an interesting illustration of the corporate sensibility of Apple’s Steve Jobs vs. Amazon’s consumer-centric model.
Here’s a quick quote from the Wall Street Journal’s reporting; you can read the full article at your convenience:
“We told the publishers, ‘We’ll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30%, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway,'” Mr. Jobs was quoted as saying by his biographer, Walter Isaacson.
The publishers were then able to impose the same model across the industry, Mr. Jobs told Mr. Isaacson. “They went to Amazon and said, ‘You’re going to sign an agency contract or we’re not going to give you the books,’ ” Mr. Jobs said.
Update 3/9/12: Here’s an interesting take on the same topic, from Bloomberg Business.
Masters Degrees Equaling Massive Debt
Every now and then, I’m contacted by people recently graduated from Ivy League schools who want to go to work for WordPros.
The potential interviewee is usually in their mid-twenties and has never published anything. Not even an article in the school paper.
Me: “And why do you want to be a writer?”
Grad: “Oh, I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a writer.”
Me: “What have you written?”
Grad: “Oh, I’ve been too busy getting my degree to publish anything.”
Me: “Not even a blog?”
This phenomenon has ALWAYS puzzled me. But I carried 18 credit hours a semester while working three part-time jobs (yes, it nearly killed me and my GPA, but I made it). I even periodically squeezed in some volunteer work.
Gradually, over the years, I’ve realized there’s a certain class of professional student who never feels quite qualified enough to actually get a job and GO TO WORK.
So, they’re endlessly preparing, gathering credentials, planning to have all the certifications they may ever need to do the best job EVER in any field.
Without actually doing any real work. Just PREPARING. Forever.
Here’s a fascinating article from Bloomberg, highlighting a painful fact of life for holders of Masters Degrees in today’s job market:
About one-third of people with master’s degrees make less money on average than a typical bachelor’s degree holder, said Stephen J. Rose, a labor economist with Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, citing U.S. Census data.
Students who borrow to fund their further education are finding themselves in dire situations. One student plans to arrange to pay 15% of his salary for the next 25 years, with the understanding that the remaining debt will be forgiven after that time.
Is the treadmill really worth it? Probably not.
Click here to read the full story: Trapped by $50,000 Degree in Low-Paying Job.
Good News for Writers and Authors: Amazon Enters Publishing Arena
Amazon has made the leap from bookseller to book publisher (and NOT just ebooks).
If you’re a writer, you’ve got to learn more here.
More info is also here at the New York Times; and more details emerge in this piece from the Christian Science Monitor.
“May You Live In Interesting Times” (a favorite and prescient piece of Chinese Fortune Cookie wisdom)!
Value Your Privacy? Borders Didn’t.
Consumer Reports says that a federal bankruptcy court allowed Borders Bookstores to SELL customers’ contact information and purchase history (including info from one of its prior iterations, Waldenbooks) to BARNES AND NOBLE.
Read the Consumer Reports piece here.
Congratulations. You’re now a COMMODITY, not a customer.
Don’t like that idea? Then visit this link to scrub your info. But you’ve got to OPT OUT by October 29, 2011.