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Old 09-15-2017, 06:46 PM   #31
darryl
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I think that there are a number of factors. First, there are best sellers and there are best sellers. Big names such as Grisham and King have enough of a fanbase that their newest will almost always show up on the best seller list. That doesn't mean that the latest and greatest is selling as much as their earlier mega hit. That's the difference between popping up on the best seller list for a week or two when the book comes out, and staying on the list for week after week after week, like their earlier books did. That's very normal. Do you think that Dan Brown's Inferno sold anything remotely like The Da Vinci Code did?

Second, I do think there is a big drop in impulse buys for the big name authors. 10 years ago, you had a lot of book stores and news stands selling books and the big name authors had their books placed front and center. As much as some dismiss publisher marketing, I would suggest that book placement had a very big impact with regards to major sells for such authors. They still haven't figured out on line discoverability. Anyone who is in business knows how important discoverability is.

Third, I think that there is a lot more entertainment options to compete with. Books have to compete with video games, binge netflix watching, and a host of other things.
I find myself largely agreeing with you. What seems to be suggested by the article and by Grisham so far as your first point is concerned is that authors are selling fewer books generally, and to be a best seller a book needs far fewer sales. With sales numbers slashed It is suggested that Publishers have largely abandoned what used to be mid-list authors, and are now looking at their best sellers. They have businesses to run and it seems the new sales numbers are not sufficient to support their current business models. Hardly surprising if Grisham's 50% less is accurate. I'm sure some of the top best selling authors have kept their numbers around old best seller levels, but I would have thought Grisham was amongst them. It would be fascinating to see Stephen King's figures, or James Patterson's, though the latter is seeking to innovate and far from typical. The question is not really about best seller lists but the effect of the significant drop in number of sales. Publishers can be expected to reduce authors remuneration in line with the new numbers and drop those authors who are unprofitable. So far, at least anecdotally, they have dropped most of the midlist and are looking at the second tier of best sellers.

Your second point I agree with. I doubt many rational people dismiss the importance of book placement, be it in a physical store or online. It is one aspect of publisher marketing which still retains some value. It's wonderful for those authors who can avail themselves of it. Publishers of course must continually review what they are prepared to spend on promotion and the effectiveness of it. Anecdotally they seem to be less prepared to spend on promotion, and must be reviewing the practice even for best sellers if such best sellers are selling 50% less books.

Your third point I also agree with. But streaming services for music and movies do make these excellent value. For less than the price of a single Big 5 new release ebook per month, one can stream unlimited music or video. Yet the Big 5's response is to offer such unattractive terms to enterprises attempting subscription models that such services involving their books are simply not viable. And by increasing their prices! Whether overall reader numbers have dropped I don't know, though I suspect they have actually increased overall. If you confine such numbers to Big 5 readers, I think their number has dropped as many desert to the Indies.

Last edited by darryl; 09-15-2017 at 06:50 PM.
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:05 PM   #32
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Yeah, this is what killed book sales, I think. All those non-readers who would pick up a book when they were stuck in an airport now check Facebook, Pinterest, etc on their phones instead. Just check any airport electrical outlet. That's where all the casual 'airport readers' have gone.
In my experience, non-readers never "pick up a book" regardless of where they might be stuck. Magazines--maybe, but not books.
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Old 09-15-2017, 09:25 PM   #33
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What I found quite interesting was John Grisham's statement that he is selling about half the books he was years ago, yet his books are still at or near the top of the charts.
Grisham used to be one of the authors I read as soon as his books became available. I began that after reading "The Firm". His books have been variable, some better than others, a few very good, the others less so. But in recent years they've mostly disappointed. I haven't read one any of his books in the past few years. I'll probably re-read some of his older ones from time to time but I doubt I'll read any he's written in recent years.

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Old 09-15-2017, 10:04 PM   #34
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Grisham used to be one of the authors I read as soon as his books became available. I began that after reading "The Firm". His books have been variable, some better than others, a few very good, the others less so. But in recent years they've mostly disappointed. I haven't read one any of his books in the past few years. I'll probably re-read some of his older ones from time to time but I doubt I'll read any he's written in recent years.

Barry
Our history with Grisham's books is very similar. I agree with you about the variable quality and share your disappointment with his later books. In particular I was very disappointed wtth Gray Mountain which always promised more but never delivered. Grisham is no longer a must read for me.

Last edited by darryl; 09-16-2017 at 03:19 AM.
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Old 09-16-2017, 01:10 AM   #35
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Yeah, this is what killed book sales, I think. All those non-readers who would pick up a book when they were stuck in an airport now check Facebook, Pinterest, etc on their phones instead. Just check any airport electrical outlet. That's where all the casual 'airport readers' have gone.
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That and being able to connect to the internet while in the air. A lot of people use to buy a casual book for in flight reading. It use to be a choice between watching the inflight movie, sleeping or reading a book.
Sounds like sellers of ebooks need to find a way to market them to travelers
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Old 09-16-2017, 03:43 PM   #36
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Sounds like sellers of ebooks need to find a way to market them to travelers
That was the whole promise of kindle with whispernet. You can buy and download a book almost anywhere. Of course, once again, the ebook publishers haven't really solved the discoverability issue.

To find an ebook, you have to actively know to look for it. I really thought that by now, we would have been to the point where I would automatically be notified when a favored author comes out with a new work, or has a backlist published. Author alert kind of sort of lets you know when a new book comes out by an author, but it's not completely reliable and doesn't cover pure backlist ebooks.

I also thought we would have curated websites or newsletters that would tell us about the new books in the various genres, but as far as I can tell, that one hasn't happened.

I thought that Amazon would have improved their store and let use filter the book lists to give an individualized way of browsing for ebooks, but the amazon ebook store hasn't really changed much in the past decade. Lack of competition will do that.
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Old 09-18-2017, 12:08 PM   #37
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In my experience, non-readers never "pick up a book" regardless of where they might be stuck. Magazines--maybe, but not books.
We have different experiences I guess. I have friends and coworkers who aren't 'readers', but in the old days would take a popular best seller to the beach or on vacation (or would pick one up at an airport), but who otherwise didn't read for pleasure. Those people don't read now.
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Old 09-18-2017, 03:04 PM   #38
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Probably a difference in definitions, too. You seem to be using the term "non-reader" to describe someone I would consider to be a "casual reader." Whereas my definition of a non-reader is someone who would prefer to do nearly anything rather than resort to reading a book (provided they're literate, of course). In my opinion, publishers have never been able to rely on purchases from those people.
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Old 09-18-2017, 03:11 PM   #39
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Many travellers who just wanted something not terrible to read on the plane who would have visited the airport shop and bought John Grisham's latest on the front table at $15.99 are no longer doing so.
People would buy a paperback no problem for $7.99 or less at the airport. The book just had to sound like it might be good. Now with these higher prices, more people are bringing books with them and they are not just buying on a whim.

Raise prices too much and you lose sales. So while you won't make as much profit per book sold, you'll sell more.

Last edited by JSWolf; 09-18-2017 at 03:15 PM.
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