Not Just Ebooks! (We Want Your P-book Data).

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The EREC data set in currently inclusive of books released primarily as ebooks. Now, I should be clear here. My intent is that authors report all sales, ebooks and POD if they sell in that format. So our figures do already include paperbacks to this extent.

And I think the level of awareness authors have these days is so much higher than a few years ago. And the economy is giving some timely lessons in ignoring risks, trusting companies, and assuming everything with be fine. But I digress.

I think what is still missing is a sense of proportion. That is, seeing the sales figures of large press erotic romance imprints. I am very interested in receiving some data relating to imprints such as Harlequin Blaze, Avon Red, Berkley Heat etc.

The data I am after, in case any of you have forgotten, is total books sold at first report (e.g. first quarter), after one year (if available), total to date and to end of contract (if available). Of course offset print runs are not reported as frequently and specifically, but close enough is good enough.

My idea would be to mass all of these books together to begin with to represent mainstream publishing sales, and separate by publisher as possible. If you have any questions, or data to share (anonymously) please email veinglory[at]gmail.com.

7 comments:

Anonymous,  8:10 AM  

Data for print sales are not collected the same way as ebooks. You don't usually know your _actual_ sales for several years, because of that pesky thing in the print world known as "returns". Print royalty statements show how many books have shipped to bookstores, but a reserve for returns of up to 50% is held (sometimes for several years) until the return rate is calculated. You often don't know actual per-copy sales rates until the book is out of print. So I don't think you can do an apples-to-oranges comparison between ebooks and print books, at least not on the same timeline.

Emily Veinglory 8:54 AM  

I suspected something of the sort. Does anyone have a suggestion as to how to make the best possible comparison. The most obvious option would be to use only 'sales to end of contract' but that doesn't really work for ebooks which tend to remain on sales. Perhaps 'total known sales to date'?

Anonymous,  9:52 AM  

I would go with total sales known to date, though that would still not deal with the returns issue. (In my own case, I probably won't know the return ratio for at least two years on my current print release.)

The only way to know if your book is selling "actual" copies before the return reserve is released is if your book sells out a printing. If your first printing was 25,000 copies, and you go through all of that in a short period of time and the publisher orders a second printing, (and a third, and so on) then you know that you sold all 25,000 copies in your first printing. Otherwise it takes forever to know exactly how many copies have sold.

Nielsen Bookscan is somewhat helpful in this regard, but it misses huge segments of the bookselling market. Not all booksellers participate. It also misses sales data from WalMart, Target, Costco, drugstores/grocery stores, etc.

kirsten saell 11:48 AM  

If your first printing was 25,000 copies, and you go through all of that in a short period of time and the publisher orders a second printing, (and a third, and so on) then you know that you sold all 25,000 copies in your first printing. Otherwise it takes forever to know exactly how many copies have sold.

You still can't count on having sold all those 25 000 books. If 40% of that first run was stripped and returned in the first few months, then the book suddenly got exposure on Oprah or something, your publisher would still want to do a second run. Also if your next book takes off and suddenly everyone wants to read the first one.

Not speaking from experience--just an educated guess on how returns can bugger up the works.

Emily Veinglory 11:59 AM  

With the people that have contacted me so far we are aiming for first and and total figures--as best as they can be estimated.

Anonymous,  2:15 PM  

kirsten has a point. There are a lot of other factors besides selling out a print run that can affect total units sold. (though those kinds of events are quite rare, especially the Oprah example.) Another reason why this is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

The vast majority of print books have one printing that does not sell all the way through for several years. 40-50% return rates are also quite common.

Anonymous,  3:28 AM  

I'm terribly curious about any numbers for Ravenous Romance, for some reason...

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