CIPHERING THE CRYSTAL BALL OF FUTURE BOOK SALES
June 13, 2020
She was afraid of heights, but she was much more afraid of never flying. — Atticus
Who Needs Book Fairs?
Amazon accounts for as much as 50% of U.S. book sales, and they recently “deprioritized” delivering books and currently list many bestsellers as not shipping for several weeks. Hmmm. That can’t be good for small publishers and independent authors who rely mostly on Amazon for book sales.
With Amazon acting in such an unfriendly way towards authors and publishers, it makes it even harder for a book and author to find their audience. According to Stephen Hawking in Brief Answers to the Big Questions, “if you stacked the new books being published next to each other, at the present rate of production you would have to move at ninety miles an hour just to keep up with the end of the line.” There is a lot of competition.
What’s an author to do? In addition to adding your book cover as another tiny rectangle on a million-miles of Amazon roadway, you can present your authorship to attendees at book fairs and festivals. It narrows down the odds of being noticed. But this year, due to the pandemic, it just got a lot harder to stand out from the crowd.
The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Tucson Festival of Books, the Virginia Festival of the Book and The Believer Festival in Las Vegas were among the many events cancelled, which draw tens of thousands of readers. PEN America announced that it was calling off its World Voices Festival, and The American Library Association, a pivotal annual trade show for publishers, booksellers and librarians was cancelled, too.
Does it Matter that Book Stores are Frozen?
Local bookstores were just beginning to make a come-back from the 2008-9 Big Recession, when the pandemic blew writers and booksellers dreams away.
It concentrates even more books on Amazon when book stores have less shelf space. Strand bookstore announced that it was closing its flagship store in Manhattan and its kiosks elsewhere around the city. Emily Powell, the owner and chief executive of Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., announced that Powell’s was closing all five of its locations temporarily. Barnes & Noble has been in steady decline for years, largely because of the rise of Amazon. Sales have dropped each of the past five years as the company closes stores.
If there are no book stores, then where do authors launch their books?
What are the Big Wigs Doing?
New York’s publishers are on hold until September. None of the major New York City publishers who took part in a PW survey about their efforts to return employees to their Manhattan headquarters had fixed plans—and none said they expected to begin bringing staff back in a meaningful way before September 1.
Many best-selling authors with books coming out in 2020 have post-poned their launch. But some books are being released and are doing well.
What Genre of Books are Selling?
Non-fiction educational books and comics are selling best. Readers want facts and the ultimate in distraction! And in spite of the dirth of book events this year, there are still virtual events happening.
Check Out the WP Virtual Literary Calendar
The Washington Post’s virtual literary event calendar is now available.
The Washington Post has created a literary calendar of streaming events, giving readers a resource for tracking virtual events they can attend around the country. The list is curated by The Post’s Book staff and consists of a continuously updated selection of events from bookstores, libraries, festivals, publishers and individual authors.
Author Resources: AG Guide Helps Authors Find Relief
The Authors Guild has put together a guide providing details on economic relief available to authors during the Covid-19 crisis thanks to the under the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act passed in late March. Sections include:
- Assistance for individual authors and journalists.
- Assistance for small businesses, including sole proprietors.
- Outline of tax relief for individuals, businesses, and charities.
Find out more from Authors Guild
Take good care of yourself, and keep scratchin’!
Use your mighty pen! Know your writing may benefit another, even if just to pass the time without thinking of impending disaster.
Anamcara Press is accepting unpublished poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction on the topic of Words are Contagious through September 29, 2020 for publication spring 2021. Please visit our submissions page at: https://anamcara-press.com/submissions/