Irish Independent does a round up of sales in 2009

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Sebastian Barry, king of the fiction world in 2009 with over 70,000 units sold of The Secret Scripture

The Irish Independent story is based almost entirely on the Nielsen figures and doesn’t mention that this can cause a bias because of what doesn’t get included (independent stores and some non-trade sales outlets). In any case, it’s a fascinating read and the nub of the issue which isn’t explored fully lies here:

Overall, however, the Irish retail book sector remains remarkably buoyant despite the recession, with the latest Nielsen data valuing the fiction market here at just over €37m for 2009 with sales of 3,882,427 to date for 46,929 titles. The non-fiction figures are running at 4,630,297 book sales worth just €65m for 199,377 titles.

This compares with the 2008 total market value of €111.3m.

Of course what seems like good news, hides rather bad news for Irish publishers of all shades. Still, no need to get TOO depressing on a Sunday!
Eoin

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 12/12/2009

Colm & The LaZarus Key

I like the structure of that date, it has a good look to it.

Here is a link to JA Konrath’s rather interesting list of ebook predicitions from the start of the month. I missed it then and only read it today.

A brace of great posts from Booksquare; here & here.

Great post about what gamers can teach publishers, really fascinating:

the tabletop role-playing gaming industry started out by trying to model the methods of traditional publishing, found out the hard way that that really didn’t work for them (in the long run, it’s not working for big publishers either, but they’re BIG, so they didn’t notice as soon), and had to find new solutions. They were the first to adopt electronic publishing, shame-free POD printing, electronic-only publishing, podcasting-modules, mixed media releases, and every other experimental method anyone could think of, good or bad. That’s fine: they’re small, and experimenting is something small groups of people can DO that big groups can’t.

By the way is anyone getting the feeling that Seth Godin was SO far ahead of the curve with Small is the New Big? Coz I am!

Last but by far not least, the Irish Times has a list of fabulous books for kids this Christmas, including one of an un-mentioned (on this list) favourites (I thought another self commissioned title was pushing it!): Colm & The Lazarus Key by Kieran Mark Crowley who will be one of Ireland’s best known writers for children soon, of that I am certain. The smartly excellent cover is the work of the wonderful Emma over @ Snowbooks, if you need cover work, she’s your girl.

Reading like a demon, but only just keeping up!
Eoin

Publishing Success in Ireland, Part Five, Summing Up

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This series has been an exciting and interesting one for me to write and research. The first four parts are the real meat. You can read them one by one:

Publishing Success In Ireland, Part One
Publishing Success In Ireland, Part Two
Publishing Success In Ireland, Part Three
Publishing Success In Ireland, Part Four

So what have we learned with this series?

    1) Success is a lot more mundane than most people think.
    2) 1500-2000 units will put your book in the top 1000 books of that year.
    3) The industry is dominated by the forces of UK publishing
    4) That Fiction outperforms but is heavily driven by hits (making this Fintan O’Toole article nonsense*)
    5) That Average Selling Price makes a real difference

Have I anything new to share?
I’ve three new facts to share today.
– Up to the last Nielsen figures (28/11/2009) the Irish Consumer Market was down approximately 4.52% in Value
– Volume was up 5.42% though
– ASP was down 9.43%

These three facts indicate a number of unsettling features of the Irish book market.

Firstly, price is driving higher volume, but that is at the cost of driving down the ASP. This is surely putting everyone in the chain under extreme pressure.

Secondly, while there are some startling figures for individual books (70K+ for Secret Scripture for instance) as a whole, the Average Sale per Title is down somewhat (if this figure means anything).

Thirdly, Irish publishers are doing A LOT worse than the market as a whole. Not having full data makes this analysis superficial only so treat it with caution, but I estimate that nearly every Irish publisher has suffered a fall in sales much larger than the market fall. This has been driven by the heavy push booksellers are sensibly putting into bestselling titles, making the space tougher for smaller titles.

In short, success however modest, will be even more precarious going forward!
Eoin

* Also Dan Brown (who O’Toole picks on) has sold, 57193 copies of The Lost Symbol in Ireland so far this year.

An Irish Books Update – Saturday 05/12/2009

Coming into Christmas, the reviews come thick and fast so I thought I would update.

Local History gets a good look in in the Irish Times!

The Derry Journal has an interesting article by Claire Allen, author of Writing Rainy Days And Tuesday.

Oddly enough, Culture Norther Ireland has a feature on three Poolbeg writers, Claire Allen, Emma Heatherington and Fionnuala McGoldrick.

The Irish Times carries a piece on a Faber book on Beckett’s poetry and writing. On Friday they featured one of my upcoming Christmas picks: Hidden Cork. Also on Friday this piece on a recent book on the Fine Gael story.

The Irish Independent also features the FG book. Merlin published Stop The Press! by John Kierans is also covered. As is rising chic lit star, Niamh Greene’s, Letters To A Love Rat.

Eoin

Ancient Folk Tales of Ireland:

Hawkhill Publishing is a new-ish company under the direction of former Hughes & Hughes buyer Colm Ennis. They had a hit last year with the rather attractively packaged GAA Book Of Days and have released two new titles [If I Trust In You and Playing Dead] in 2009. Their third in 2009 is the reason for this post.

The Ancient Folk Tales Of Ireland Cover
The Ancient Folk Tales Of Ireland Cover

It was the cover that initially attracted me to Ancient Folk Tales of Ireland. I emailed Colm and he was kind enough to send me on an Advance Information sheet. I’m looking forward to seeing the book in physical form. From the AI:

Bringing the original Folk Tales collected by Douglas Hyde, and first presented to the reading public 120 years ago, to the children of today. Six stories from Hyde’s original collection have been beautifully illustrated in a classical Irish setting including old favourites such as ‘The King of Ireland’s Son’ and some lesser know stories such as ‘The Well at the End of the World.’ What makes this collection unique is that the actual language of the original storytellers has been retained to bring the children of today back beside the fire to hear the stories as they were told 120 years ago and first produced in the 1890 edition of Hyde’s ‘Beside the Fire.’
Produced in close association with the Douglas Hyde Estate, with an introduction by his grandson, every effort has been made to retain the original storytelling of the stories while removing some of the more obvious 19th Century influences to present the stories as they were told down the centuries.

IrishTalesOfMystery&Magic
This has been ripe for a re-issue and Colm has a good eye for packaging. I hope this does astonishingly well. It reminds me of the rather lovely packaging Mercier applied to Eddie Lenihan’s Irish Tales of Mystery & Magic.

Good luck to Hawkhill and Colm.
Eoin