Paperbacks Are Selling eBooks

Image - iStockphoto: Canoneer
Image – iStockphoto: Canoneer

Paperbacks Sell eBooks: Surprised?

Join us Friday for a #FutureChat on sales data in the books market: With major retailers not sharing their numbers, are we viewing the industry by candlelight? We’ll be live on Twitter at 4 p.m. London time, 11 a.m. New York time, 8 a.m. Los Angeles, 5 p.m. Berlin, 3 p.m. GMT

I owe my headline to The Bookseller’s Philip Jones who, in an email to me, has noted that publishing is an industry “looking at its market by candlelight.”

What he’s referring to is the fact that so much sales data is held secret by Amazon and other major retailers. Oddly, I still encounter people in the business who don’t yet realize that we don’t know how many books are being sold. It’s perfectly legal for corporations to keep this information private. It’s also perfectly unhelpful.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that publishing is without data. Many houses are working hard to capture and start parsing data. And one of the areas they can see numbers is in social media.

In A Big Year Ahead For DataThe Bookseller’s Felicity Wood and Tom Tivnan, for example, quote Rufus Weston at HarperCollinsUK:

Publishers are realizing what Amazon realized much earlier: that our own data is a business asset. As physical sales become less important, it is more difficult to use the TCM [total consumer market] to calibrate what a successful book or author is. We can now look at the social trajectory of a potential acquisition and use that to our advantage to set the advance. We’re seeing authors becoming more data-savvy, and I think we will see a further recognition that data is part of the business process. I can see us asking for a regular amount of tweets from a celebrity as part of their contract, for example.

John Lewis
John Lewis

And while publishers are learning to quantify, evaluate, and leverage authors’ social-media performance — especially as “physical sales become less important,” as Weston puts it — they might want to consider an observation made by The Bookseller’s John Lewis.

Lewis is the magazine’s numbers man, he tracks and monitors trends, and analyzes what they mean.

And even by the “candlelight” of an industry partly blinded to its own successes by the data-withholds of the big retailers, Lewis has detected a potential reversal of fortune for paperbacks:

It is the paperback’s release that makes the e-edition shine brightly once more and until the industry comes up with a different strategy for keeping authors’ new books on reader’s radars for longer than a few weeks, let’s hope talk of the paperback’s imminent demise continues to be pulp fiction.


Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writing on the Ether: In The ‘Candlelight’ Of The Books Market: Paperbacks Are Selling eBooks

Originally published by Thought Catalog at



 Join us for Frankfurt Book Fair’s first Business Club synthesis of conference events, networking opportunities and negotiation comfort, all in Halle 4:

300 x 100 proportion Frankfurt 2014 Business Club

Frankfurt 2014 banner

CONTEC banner

Leave a Reply