Mark Terry

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Numbers Game

April 10, 2007
For your elucidation, entertainment and probably dismay, I'm going to show you a bunch of numbers. Now bear with me, they're interesting numbers. They're mostly from a Publishers Weekly article that listed how many copies many bestsellers sold in 2006. These all seem to be hardcovers. They were just 2006 sales. They were supposed to include returns into January 2007, but the article admits they probably didn't in all cases. They also excluded book club sales and foreign sales.

The number 1 book in 2006.
For One More Day by Mitch Albom--sold 2,735,232 copies. (The article points out that in 2004, Mitch only made it to #2 or #3 because The Da Vinci Code held the #1 spot with over 4 million copies).

The number 2 book: Cross by James Patterson--sold 1,325,197 (And you need to think about that for just a moment. The #1 fiction book--I'm just dealing with fiction here--sold 1.4 million copies MORE than the #2 book!)

Lisey's Story by Stephen King--1,200,000
Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich--1,050,397

Now, Lisey's Story ranked #6 and Twelve Sharp ranked #7. Let's drop down just a bit to another well-known crime novelist, Patricia Cornwell, at #12.

At Risk by Patricia Cornwell--702,800 (Whoooaaaa! She sold almost HALF of Lisey's Story!)

Oh, let's throw in one nonfiction title, just for grins.

You: On A Diet by Michael Roisen and Mehmet Oz.--1,297,000

Now let's jump way down the list.

Echo Park by Michael Connelly--389,614. (Think about that. Mitch Albom's novel sold almost 8 times the numbers of Michael Connellys' latest Harry Bosch novel)

Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich--356,024
Act of Treason by Vince Flynn--354,000
Dead Watch by John Sandford--344,516
Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen--275,000
Gone by Jonathan Kellerman--221,335
Under Orders by Dick Francis--219,630
Hundred Dollar Baby by Robert B. Parker--180,017

Well, the list goes on.

Here's a bit from the Nielsen Bookscan regarding 2004 sales:

In 2004, Nielsen Bookscan tracked the sales of 1.2 million books in the United States and here’s what they came up with:
Of those 1.2 million, 950,000 sold fewer than 99 copies.
Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies.
Only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies.
Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000 copies.
Only 10 books sold more than a million copies each.
The average book in the United States sells about 500 copies.

Those numbers are probably a bit skewed (as are the PW numbers--if there's one truism in publishing, it's that nobody knows how many copies have sold on any given day), but let's call them illustrative.

Take home message? Well, there's a big freakin' difference between the top of the bestsellers list and the bottom. These are just hardcovers. Apparently the 300,000,000 people in the United States don't buy a lot of hardcovers. Mass market paperback numbers are significantly higher. I'm sure there's others--why don't you tell me.

Oh, and I couldn't resist.

Number of viewers who watched the "American Idol" 2006 premier: 37,400,000

Number of viewers who watched this year's Academy Awards: 39,900,000.

Either makes you feel humble or nauseated, doesn't it?

Mark Terry


Blogger Shannon said...

Yikes. Maybe a thriller about an American Idol contestant getting kidnapped? :-P
I haven't even heard of "For One More Day". Apparently, Oprah is making it into a tv movie. There's the tv tie-in again. Scary stuff.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Joe Moore said...

"Either makes you feel humble or nauseated, doesn't it?"


8:13 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

There aren't many people getting rich writing, are there?

12:24 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Probably not, Eric. Just like in any other business. There are some who get rich, some who do really well, some who get by just fine and a lot who are just hanging out on the fringes.

12:37 PM  
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