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Still stuck on understanding the book trade.

January 22, 2010

In theatre, when a show is doing well, you know it. There are signs outside announcing how few seats are left, and long lines at the box office. Rumours and gossip too help a lot. With books, how do you know?

 Amazon’s “ranking” system manages to zip your tome from 3,000 to 80,000 and back again in 24 hours – making you wonder if they do it by “weight of books in stock plus weight of the person picking them for despatch” rather than more scientific means. If so, I’m hoping “Big Burt” is allocated to the theatre section more frequently than little “Vicky B.”

 At least Waterstones tell you a bit more online by also letting you know how many branches are stocking your work. The good news is that since Tuesday, Kensington High Street, King’s Road, and Garrick Street in the centre of London, and Southend, Sheffield, Middlesbrough and Canterbury have all decided to get stock in. Foyles, Charing Cross Road also got an extra 4 in on Monday, and have sold half.

So we know there is some stock out there, and that it is selling – but unless you make the actual book charts or subscribe to Nielson (the book sales recorder) it is still far more covert than even secretive box office figures… and who chats online about book sales except authors?!

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