Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How many works of fiction do YOU need?

According to Bowker, there were 3% fewer books published in 2008 than in 2007. Phew! A mere 275,232 new titles to contend with. 47,541 works of fiction. Had there not been a massive economic upheaval, I’m sure our remainder tables would now be piled high with all variety of Eat Pray Love-meets-vampire-pirate memoirs of recovery.

Green Apple has a wide selection, of course, but we estimate that we only order about 10,000 newly published books each year—3.6% of the grand total. In some ways, that seems tiny. But if you exclude romances, textbooks, and new books by V.C. Andrews (who died 23 years ago), there's only a few thousand left.

And still, according to USA Today (via GalleyCat), 16% of all books sold in the US in the first quarter of 2009 were by Stephanie Meyer.

And indeed, we sold a lot of Stephanie Meyer books that quarter: 223 to be precise. But we also sold 152 books by Haruki Murakami (and no movies based on Murakami books were released that quarter). We are probably prouder of that fact than we should be. Maybe even the tiniest bit smug. Our customers are pretty cool.

Not that we have anything against Stephanie Meyer. Every book we sell keeps the staff and rent paid and the doors open another day. So thanks, Stephanie, Haruki and the 10,000 other writers who keep us doing what we love. Here's to you. And to Dan Brown's forthcoming novel. . . .

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