Stories to touch the heart and mind
Michael W. Davis
Copyright 2010 by Michael W. Davis
of the year
of the year
Eighteen months ago before my cancer, I presented a mini workshop entitled “So you want to write a novel?” Now that I’m a human again, I decided to
expand the mini discussion into a three part series. While updating my material, I found some interesting stats on the publishing industry that you might
enjoy. I need to put forth a few caveats first:
- The sources for these estimates is available via the link page on my website (Davisstories.com) but I warn you, there are a ton of details to weed
through to get to the snapshot below.
- The data on the industry is VERY fragmented. Go to four sources, you’ll get four different answers, so I picked stats that appear in agreement.
- The numbers change each year so consider these as “representative” of 2008 through 2010.
- I selected strictly the USA industry since stats were more prevalent for that sector
Thus, you may find different stats doing your own search, and that’s great, but these are instructive on their own and provide a quick snapshot.
The following figures are ball park numbers and represent what was out there two years ago:
- Six large publishers out of New York (Random House, Penguin, Time Warner, etc)
- 400 medium companies (Pocket, Tor, St Martin, MIRA, Bantam, etc)
- 86,000 small Indie publishers (Champagne Books, Wild Rose, Cobblestone, Changeling Press)
Titles and sales
Ever wonder how many books are published and sold?
- Roughly 1 million new titles are released in the US each year
- 87% of retail store sales come from 7% of all released titles
- 93% of titles sale less than 1000 copies
- 80% of titles sell less than 100 and only 500 titles sold more than 100,000
- Average book sells by AAP publishers are considered successful if 5000 for fiction and 7500 for NF
- Average total sales for a self published book are 200 copies
Here are some interest numbers on reader gender stats:
- 65% of all book sales go to women
- Women account for 80% of sales for fiction
- The average American female reader buys 30 books/year & spends roughly $450
Every wonder about which genres readers prefer?
- 25% of book sales are for fiction
- Distribution of total fiction sales: 22% Rom, 8% SF/Fan, 7% Mystery, 53% Religion/young/child
- Distribution of best seller sales (26 million books): 33% thriller/suspense, 28% Romance, 8% Mystery, 6% SF/fantasy, etc
- Romances accounts for 65 million readers, 90% female
State of book sales (2009/2010)
- Aggregate sales declined 4% to 36% based on genre
- Borders closed 16 stores
- B&N closed 10 stores
- B&N sales declined 3.3%
- Waldenbooks has decreased from an original 1200 stores to 175
- Dalton has gone from 797stores to 4
- Sales grew 110% to 140%
- 37% of all Electronic buyers bought first E book last year (this have broad implications)
- In 2010 Amazon E sales exceeded other media by 11%,
- BN.com Electronic sales rose 60%
- Half of E sells are readers over 50
As I stated in the beginning, this estimates should be considered general in nature, given the variance across the sources I researched, yet they are
informative in turns of basic trends. There are three personal observations based on my gut reaction:
1. Why the difference between paperback and electronic sales? It’s simple; average E books cost roughly $4 and paperbacks $16. Also interesting to note
that from their beginning earlier in the decade, growth in the E market was slow, as the big six have tried to play up. Yet, if you look at the growth from
2008 to 2010, it’s exponential and the shape of the curve for 2004 to 2010 indicates it will continue to escalate in that direction. If you read articles from
the industry controllers (New York agents and publishers) they denial the storm on the horizon, yet it’s coming regardless of their attempts to cover the
truth. Cost of readers has decreased significantly and even old timers like me are adapting to new technology (bought my first I phone last month).
2. The demographic number that SF/Fantasy sales are 50% men I find hard to believe. Across my life span I’ve encountered about 200 people that
admitted to reading fiction. Of those, I only remember three or four women that actually read SF/fantasy (note that fantasy does not include paranormal).
Is it possible my chemo pickled brain is conditionally remembering things? Maybe, I don’t think so. Is it possible women don’t admit to reading SF? I
guess, but what would be the reason? Same is true about men being 10% of the pure romance market. Of that 200 that admit to reading fiction, I know of
only one male. Course, I could accept that men might want to hide the fact they read romance because the implications would be life threatening, but 10%?
3. Another interesting trend is the change in senior readers that are adopting E format. I saw that change across several data sources, which surprised me.
My wife and I often observed that readers in their senior years would never accept E format because all their life they had enjoyed the touch of
parchment. Still, when I read the number that half of E sales are to readers 50 and over, it appears presumption was wrong. The cost is coming down for
readers, but in this economy how many have 150 to 400 for a reader? Old farts that are retired, like me. We have more discretionary income. Also, three
years ago, none of my 50 and older friends had readers. Now 1 in 3 does. Even a friend that has a standing order for every paperback I’ve written, he
now buys them in E format. His reason? Cost and the fact that my paperbacks come out 3 to 5 months after the E version is released. So, the storm is
just over the horizon, regardless of the mainstream publishing weenies going through cognitive denial.
I hope you found it enlightening like I did.
Survey of the Publishing Industry & where its headed