Wednesday, March 19, 2008

News or Noise?

We were once amazed how many Bollywood films were produced each year. You can watch two different films every day and still would not see them all! Yet India has a thriving film industry.

We now hear from The Bookseller feed today that Nielsen BookScan report that the number of titles with both an ISBN and a 2007 publication date sold last year hit 118,602, up 36% from 2006 (86,984). The amount of backlist titles a pre-2007 publication date sold last year also increased, up to 758,125 from 590,464 in 2006, a jump of 28%.There are some explanations of new products having ISBNs, an expansion of the data collected and more print on demand titles.

Let’s face it publishing is becoming cheaper. Print on demand doesn’t also necessitate the inventory and Internet, Amazon, and wholesalers can remove the cost of a saleforce and the battle of trying to catch the High Street attention. Chris Anderson’s longtail economics are certainly look to arrived!

Two points to ponder. First one would hope that every title published sold at least one copy in its first year. Even the self published book must sell one copy so does this tell us anything?

The more interesting issue is with respect to backlist as print on demand titles adopt the previous ISBN and obviously publication date. If we say that there are some 2 to 3 million books in print then are we saying that only 30% make a sale in any year?

As we move on we ponder whether a little knowledge can be dangerous and must be treated as noise not news.