Monday, January 4, 2010

That time of year

Saturday's Review section of the Guardian (it takes Malcolm a while to get round to these things) listed the hundred best sellers of 2009.

This year, an innovation Malcolm believes, the listing did not quote a gross "take" for each title, but compared the publisher's recommended sale price with the actual price. So Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, with a cover price of £18.99, sold 1.22 million copies at an average of £9.22 each -- that is less than half price. This was an extreme example of book-as-commodity; but novels were generally, and generously, discounted. Even Antony Beevor's D-Day: the Battle for Normandy, one of the rare proper non-fiction titles, went for just 63p in the £. Some weird stuff happening. Pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap.

Presumably this means three things:
  • publishers have an incentive to inflate their recommended price;
  • it's darned expensive to buy from the bookseller in Stornoway; and
  • the on-line sellers, like Amazon, have it well-and-truly sussed.
Then to the count

Malcolm started to tick off those he had read. It amounted to a total 0f nine (three Stieg Larssons, Ian Rankin, Le Carre, an earlier Dan Brown though not in this year, Michael Connolly, Sansom's Shardlake, and the Beevor.

Against that must be set the "failures": Malcolm nibbled at, but couldn't take the new Dan Brown or the Niffenegger. The Lady in his Life has pre-empted and abstracted Wolf Hall, so that remains "to-be-done".

Considering the rest of the list, Malcolm reckons he hasn't missed much. Thanks be for the second-hand trade offering the treasures of yesteryear. Sphere: Related Content

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