Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Book Sales Are Down--Except for One

The New York Times reports that book sales are down.

Sales of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol fell 47% last week. It's publisher may have overprinted.
But other publishing insiders suggested that because Knopf Doubleday had printed five million copies of “The Lost Symbol” and gone back to press for 600,000 more after the first day of sales, book sales would have to reverse dramatically for the title to meet the expectations of the publishing house.
The late Senator Edward Kennedy's True Compass also saw a drop in sales of 43% from the previous week. So, the $8 million advance may have been a little high in order to actually make a profit.
And with sales of “True Compass” dwindling, some within the industry wondered how Twelve would recoup the advance of more than $8 million it paid for the memoir.
And there are other disappointing sales as well.
Other big titles showed mixed results. “Her Fearful Symmetry,” the second novel by Ms. Niffenegger, author of the best-selling “Time Traveler’s Wife,” sold just 23,000 copies in its first week, according to BookScan. Publishing insiders suggested that was a disappointment given that Scribner, the unit of Simon & Schuster that published the book, paid Ms. Niffenegger close to $5 million for it.
However, bucking the downward trend is former Governor Sarah Palin's Going Rogue: An American Life. Though not even released, it took the #1 sales slot at Amazon for over a week after the bare announcement of its publication date.

U.S. booksellers are hoping for a reversal of the current dip in book sales.
Gerry Donaghy, new book purchasing supervisor at Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., said he and his co-workers wondered, “How many of the fall books are people holding off buying themselves and hoping to get them as gifts?” He added, “Maybe that’s just optimism.”
There's a good chance Palin will give them the hoped for merry Christmas sales season when Going Rogue is released November 17.


OregonGuy said...

Do you have the time to find out what the quantity of sales of her book is?

T. D. said...


I don't know if it is available. The NYT article and Drudge's post are based on the Nielsen BookScan list (which according to NYT tracks 70% of retail sales in the US). Pre-sales may not be a part of Nielson's sales figures. In any case, I don't have access to Neilson's figures.

But here are some interesting partial comparisons:

Amazon had Going Rogue #1 for about 9 days, and it's currently #2--just behind Lost Symbol. Arguing with Idiots is #5 and True Compass is #13.

NYT said that last week Lost Symbol sold 214,000 and True Compass sold 39,000 (Drudge said 39,380). Drudge said Arguing with Idiots sold 80,252 last week. (Interesting sidelight: the difference between #1 and #2 on the NYT hardcover nonfiction list last week seems to be 41,000 copies: 80,000 copies of Beck's book vs. 39,000 copies of Kennedy's book.)

Obviously, Amazon is not anywhere near the universe of US book sales, but just taking it as a plausible ball park model, Going Rogue may have had presales last week of more than 214,000 since it bested Lost Symbol on Amazon's list. And it looks to be on track for that kind of sales this week too at #1 up until yesterday and #2 right now.

So, maybe 300,000 to 400,000 in presales in the first two weeks? Maybe less because many book selling venues don't take pre-orders.

That's the best I can do.