aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

The changing market for books

NPR looked at the changing market for hardcover books. They talked to one author who expressed surprise that it took her eight months from when her book went on sale to when she got her first royalty check. It sounds pretty good to me – she must have earned out very quickly, because you don’t get any money until you have earned out your advance. People who count on royalties are often disappointed. There is a reserve against returns that often starts at 40 percent.

The NPR story looks at returns and other facets of the book business. One idea I hadn’t heard before but makes sense: book stores are not competing against each other, but against the Internet. They order more copies than they will sell so that they can be sure they will have a copy in stock if someone comes in – rather than lose the sale to Amazon.

At the same time as readership is declining or barely holding on, there are more and more books. Last year, there were 1% more “traditional” 276,649 new titles. But RR Bowker reports that the output of on-demand, short run and unclassified titles exploded from 21,936 in 2006 to 134,773 last year. This segment includes some traditional books printed by mainstream publishers using print-on-demand technology, public domain titles published through POD as well as titles from self publishers and very small independent press that use POD.

I wonder how much of this is begat by the likes of Publish America and I-Universe.

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