In fact his publisher, Transworld, claimed that ‘in its first 36 hours the book had broken the record of total lifetime sales for any adult hardback novel ever published in the UK.’*
The first print run of the book was a staggering one million copies and apparently the reprint button is about to be pushed for the next printing.
All of this must be very exciting for Dan Brown, his agent and his publisher.
However, the sting in the tail of this story is that in the scramble for market share, retailers have taken discounts to ever deeper levels resulting in copies being sold for just £4.99.
Literary agent Jonny Geller is quoted as saying, ‘If the most popular book on earth is a fiver, what does it tell the punter? Books are worthless. Retailers are just throwing away their industry.’*
And I absolutely agree!
Surely this is no way to publish books successfully so that all parties are properly rewarded for the role they have played in making the book available to the public?
It seems to me to be an incredibly short-sighted approach which continues to devalue books at an alarming rate.
The last few years have seen an increase in the polarization of the very small number of authors who achieve such levels of ‘success’ – and everyone else.
As a result, it is much harder for new talent to break through and publishers continue to narrow their perspective of what new books will ‘work’.
Yet the industry continues to shoot itself in the proverbial foot with this mindset and ultimately will suffer as a result.
Already major change is underway with the advances in technology enabling authors to be increasingly successful at building their own audiences and publishing their own books.
That’s not to say that the traditional publishing route can’t still be an extremely positive route to market for many writers. Fortunately we haven’t yet reached that point.
And the upside to all of this can be found in the increase of ingenuity of the independents – both publishers and retailers – who continue to find ways to be successful with interesting new projects from interesting new authors.
However, it is sad to see that the scramble for market share amongst conglomerates and large retailers seems to have introduced a culture which doesn’t look good for the long term health of the industry overall.
Perhaps the pace at which the change we are witnessing today will accelerate even further and with it bring increasing opportunities for authors to pave their own path to their readership?
What do you think?
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