Simon Willison’s Weblog


No one buys books (via) Fascinating insights into the book publishing industry gathered by Elle Griffin from details that came out during the Penguin vs. DOJ antitrust lawsuit.

Publishing turns out to be similar to VC investing: a tiny percentage of books are hits that cover the costs for the vast majority that didn't sell well. The DOJ found that, of 58,000 books published in a year, "90 percent of them sold fewer than 2,000 copies and 50 percent sold less than a dozen copies."

UPDATE: This story is inaccurate: those statistics were grossly misinterpreted during the trial. See this post for updated information.

Here's an even better debunking: Yes, People Do Buy Books (subtitle: "Despite viral claims, Americans buy over a billion books a year").