Book Sales Statistics – A Few Harsh Facts
So, you want to be a writer? The good news is that being a writer is easier than it has ever been. The bad news is that being a writer is easier than it has ever been.
With the advent of self-publishing, there is now no barrier between an author’s words and the printed page. No gate keeper to destroy the dreams of the enthusiastic novelist with a stroke of the red pen. Just to prove the crazy world of book sales statistics, Book Promoter Brent Underwood recently put up a book about his right foot which consisted of one page with a picture of his foot. The book was happily accepted by Amazon and went on their lists with 60 million other books.
The problem is no longer about how to find a publisher for your book or even how to publish your book yourself, it’s about the massive pool of books which currently exists.
Let’s examine some harsh facts regarding book sales statistics:
In 2007 Amazon listed around 30,000,000 books. In 2017, that total is now approaching 70,000,000 and although overall book sales statistics continue to show a decline at the rate of around 6% per annum, the supply is growing at around 7.5% per annum. The one growth area sadly, is in Adult Colouring Books.
Taking the book sales statistics for last year in the U.S. of 2,800,000,000 and dividing by the number in print 60,000,000 that year gives 46 sales per book. By the time one takes out the top 50 authors’ sales of around 1,000,000,000, that leaves very little for the rest. And remember, the biggest selling authors are still Shakespeare, Agatha Christie and Barbara Cartland.
Just in case you are still contemplating a career in writing, here’s some more sobering book sales statistics; although Amazon lists 60,000,000 different books, their rankings only extend as far as 10,000,000. So, what is happening there? If a book sells a single copy in a year, it will receive a ranking number. Therefore, as 50,000,000 books do not have a ranking number, the only conclusion is that none of those 50,000,000 books have sold a single copy in the last twelve months.
But of course, these book sales statistics factor in all the books published regardless of quality. Maybe the quality books do better?
The Mann Booker Prize is awarded each year for outstanding works of literature so perhaps those book sales statistics hold more hope? At the time of announcing the Long List for last year, the best-selling book on that list was Anne Tyler’s, ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’. At that point, it had sold a mere 20,000 copies and the lowest selling Booker Selection had sold only 604 copies.
The market is now so thinly spread it is actually possible to become a New York Times Number One Best Seller with sales of less than 10,000 books.
For the determined author, there are still opportunities but the world is different now to how it used to be. If one wants to write for pleasure and to see one’s work in print, it’s easier than ever. But if one wants to make a living as a writer, it’s never been harder.