March 01, 2012

March News Roundup

* Ebook agency sales model under fire from the Department of Justice.  The DoJ is planning on suing Apple and five of the big six US publishers for anti-trust statute violations stemming from their adoption of the "agency model" for ebook sales.  The results of this dispute are liable to shape bookselling for publishers, authors, readers and booksellers for a long time to come.  Details here and here .

* Don't miss the Borderlands Spring Rummage Sale coming up May 12th!  When you keep a store in one space for more than ten years, all sorts of interesting stuff tends to accumulate, so come and look for bargains on cool and bizarre things that ended up in the basement.  More details to follow in next month's newsletter.

* Thanks to Locus Magazine for the following: author Frank Robinson is auctioning off his entire mind-blowing collection of pulp magazines, "including complete files of all science fiction magazines from 1926 through 1990. Condition on the items is “near mint” to “mint,” and titles include such gems as Amazing Stories, Miracle Science and Fantasy, SCOOPS (the first British science fiction magazine, from 1932) and more. Included are the first Arkham editions of Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. For more information, contact"

* Del Rey Spectra and Suvudu are calling for fan art to enhance their science fiction and fantasy characters' cage match!  (This time there are 64 characters involved.)  I don't even know how to begin explaining this to you, so I'm just going to link to it:

* J.K. Rowling's next book will be an adult book, and a radical departure from Harry Potter:

* Congratulations to the 2011 Nebula Nominees!  The complete list is here:

* Two "A Game of Thrones" Season Two trailers! (1) , (2)

* Deeply disturbing: THE SHINING mashed up with "Toy Story" for "Toy Shining":

February Bestsellers

1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
2. Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson
3. Orb Sceptre Throne by Ian Cameron Esslemont
4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
5. Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
6. Nested Scrolls by Rudy Rucker
7. The Mirage by Matt Ruff
8. Reamde by Neal Stephenson
9. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
10. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
2. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
3. Apocalypse to Go by Katharine Kerr
4. After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn
5. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
6. Soulless by Gail Carriger
7. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
8. Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
9. Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
10. The Great Game by Lavie Tidhar

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Embassytown by China Mieville
3. Orb Sceptre Throne by Ian Cameron Esslemont
4. City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore
5. Surfing the Gnarl Plus . . . by Rudy Rucker

Why Best Sellers Matter

by Alan Beatts

The New York Times Best Seller list has been produced every week since 1942.  Even with massive influence on book buying habits by Amazon, a Stanford Business School analysis strongly suggests that most book buyers look to the Times list for book purchase suggestions.  Although the effect of getting a book on that list is not huge for well-established authors, it can make the career of a new or previously mid-list author.  Making the list leads directly to larger advance payments, bigger print runs, and greater publicity expenditures for later books, not to mention much higher sales numbers for the current book and the consequent greater royalty payments.

Short of prestigious awards like the Pulitzer or Nobel Prize, there is probably nothing that can have a greater instant effect on an author's future and income.

The exact details of how placement calculation is performed for the Times list is a trade secret, kept by the News Surveys department of that paper.  Even the staff of the Book Reviews section, which publishes the list, doesn't know how it is calculated.  In general however, each week sales figures are collected from a selection of independent and chain bookstores (of which Borderlands is one), along with other sales outlets such as drug stores, supermarkets and gift shops.  Wholesalers are also included but the figures are weighted so that the final figure is based more on books sold to actual readers, rather than the number of books shipped to stores (which might languish on the shelves for a month or more before being returned).   A result is the Times list's reputation as one of the best, if not the best, measures of a book's immediate popularity.