PUBLISHING IS DOOMED, WOE, RATS FLEE SINKING SHIPS, Blah blah, blahity blah. You hear it all the time, but, well… My day job’s call center work, and I’m not one to take anything at face value. Show me the data. Show me the numbers that lead to this conclusion, and I might believe your doomsday predictions.
So, mediabistro posts these sales figures monthly(ish) for hardcovers, paperbacks, and ebooks. They posted the total 2012 over 2011 stats, and, being in work mode still on a friday night, I took a look.
A bit of an aside: These numbers are based on the Association of American Publishers (AAP) StatShot’s numbers. I happen to know (from other sources) that the VAST majority of that is from Nielsen scan’s “sales”. There are far more in depth guides to how “sales” numbers in publishing work, but while a LOT of sources aren’t counted from that, the Nielsen numbers are the ones the industry counts when it comes to things like advances and deciding if an author’s next planned book is worth it. It’s the reason there are unfinished series out there.
So, with that in mind, let’s do a little math. We’re looking at total Adult Fiction numbers, 2011 vs 2012 numbers, okay? (if anyone gets confused, let me know and I’ll try to clarify!)
From 2011-2012, hardbacks sales declined by $99.3 million. ACK, the skies are falling…
Paperbacks increased by $86.8 million.
Ebooks increased by $311.6 million.
For an INCREASE of $299.1 MILLION. YA books, meanwhile, increased by $212.1 MILLION, for a total fiction increase of $511.2 million. Even once you account for inflation, that’s GROWTH, not stagnation or failure.
Don’t believe the hype. There is always, always, always a market for amazing, wonderful books. The publishing industry has a LOT of complicated factors in it, but it’s very much a viable, valid market. There’s a place for self-publishing, don’t get me wrong. This is in NO way a derision of that. In fact, I bet if self-publishing is included, just based on anecdotal evidence, I’d suspect the ebook numbers double.
Never let the supposed industry get you down. Write the best damned story you can. Revise until it’s shiny as you can make it. Repeat, until your crit partners tell you they can’t make the story any better than it is. Adore them, and repeat once more. Then decide based on the level of time you want to commit to your promotion and development. If you can take on the challenges/expense of finding/hiring your own PROFESSIONAL (I can’t emphasize this word enough!) proofreaders, and cover designer, and think you can go that route, self publish. If you can’t, it’s time to agent hunt. But either way… Publishing is not dying off. It needs to take lessons from the business and non-profit sectors about how to manage the bottom line, and how to consolidate, but if it can weather the realities of the post f-up economy, it will be along.