New word alert: Theresa Nielsen Hayden has a great observation on the publishing industry – saying that the important thing is not to search for the elusive bestseller but rather to have many "okaysellers".
Makes sense from an economist’s view, I suppose – with low marginal cost, easy distribution and no expiry date there might be more money in finding new books at low acquisition and marketing cost than in the ad-driven lottery tickets we call best-sellers.
One of Theresa’s commenters points out that the original Wall Street Journal article actually does not say what Theresa says it says, but rather the opposite….at least in the conclusion. Another commenter says that it is what is in the beginning of the article that is important, since nobody reads the article to the end….
As my friend Eirik has pointed out in his discussions (can’t find the link) of the Norwegian publishing industry: What is fascinating is how the whole industry discusses markets and economics without introducing numbers. It should be trivial to get a view of what books are selling over time – Tim O’Reilly can show the way – and then the discussion could start from fact rather than feeling.
Then again, most publishing employees seem to be in it less for the numbers than the words. They like it like that.