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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Skewed figures

After reading my post Nielson's Numbers (see below), economist Brian Easton pointed out to me that these figures are skewed, too. They cover only one-year data, not the life of the book, so books published late in the year will report much more poorly than books published in January, for instance. (Are any books published in January?) To which, I added, there is the factor that a title may have several ISBNs, gained when it goes into paperback, large print, condensed book, and so forth. If Nielson's sources report sales by ISBN number, then of course the results for each publication will be fragmented.

In the course of this lively conversation, I also pointed out that publishers expect most sales to happen within months, if not weeks, of publication. Bookstores, unfortunately, tend to clear their shelves and return unsold copies on a regular and increasingly frequent basis. Also, I believe the figures include self-published books, which tend to have very small print runs. Unless, of course, the book is The Shack . . . (Scan down.)

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