Business Filler Post – Print Sales in December

Howdy! I was browsing the news and thought this article from Publishers Weekly might be of interest:

“The publishing industry does not look like it is headed for a big finish to 2018. In the week ended Dec. 15, 2018, unit sales of print books fell 6.5% compared to the similar week in 2017 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. “The only segment to post an increase over the week ended Dec. 16, 2017, was adult nonfiction, where the 2.4% gain was driven by the still-soaring sales of Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which sold nearly 504,000 print units. In second place on the adult nonfiction bestseller list was The Point of It All by Charles Krauthammer ,which sold just under 70,000 copies.”

The article also says that the softest area were the mid-list sellers. This could be the kiss-of-death for some authors. It also bodes poorly for print retailers, notably those already on shaky financial ground.


  1. Becoming, which sold nearly 504,000 print units.

    Huh? Double the reading population of the US? I find this highly dubious.

    The next Author Earnings report should be interesting. Especially since this is in today’s Wall Street Journal: U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Are Strongest in Years, Early Data Show
    Sales excluding autos rose 5.1% between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 from a year earlier.

    An 11% difference between books and everything else (not to mention books pulling down the everything else average) seems to be bad reporting, not bad sales.

    1. I suspect part of the “low sales” for books is the cut-off date on the sales numbers. Schools were not out, and pay-day is the 15th, so they don’t have the lead-up to Christmas proper yet. Reporting, weather, so many things can futz with sales numbers…

    2. It’s not like there has just been an election, important to the Democrats, where Obama’s political utility is still relatively valuable. It’s not like we are moving into an election, important to the Democrats, where Obama’s political utility would still be relatively valuable.

  2. Alan Bourgeois, who runs the Texas Association of Authors was asking two of us members who were in the Author Corral at Goliad in December – what were we doing to grow new readers? Readership was falling off overall, he said – and among youth readers especially? What could we do to grab new young readers the way that the Harry Potter series did, more than a decade ago?
    Aside from maybe writing books that would grab young readers – I had no idea how then to get the young reading eyeballs in the quantities that Rowling did …

    1. The key demographic is probably not the children of bibliophiles, who will make sure that there are good children’s books in the house if they have to go back thirty or fifty years to do so.

      Time, energy, money and research skills available to children are probably not going to pointing them towards titles that are out of print if they are buying, or long out of print if borrowing from the library. Peer recommendations are probably important, and those probably aren’t going to be stories about polar bears dying from smoking crack. Stuff I’ve heard here makes me think manga is what is getting the recommendations. (I’m pretty impressed with Shonen Jump’s dedication to serving the young boy market.)

      In Japan, the intermediary between manga and adult novels (without pictures) are the light novels. Which are also making their way over here. Probably the translated stock will not suffice to carry the load of renewing the American reading market. I think understanding how the translated stuff from the Asian markets works in the US market is probably part of the key to building a sustainable youth market in America.

      Beyond that, I have a bad headache and dunno.

  3. Write novels in which teh lead cahracters are children of plausible ages, say 10-14, to get the interest of the children before they become more interested in the other sex.

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