What’s the fuss?

Crain’s New York Business, a publication I consider a “must-read” each week, just published a short profile of the first-week sales of the e-book titles published by Odyssey Editions on an exclusive basis with Amazon.

According to Crain’s, only one of the 20 titles sold enough copies to appear in the top 1,000 Kindle titles for the week; the sales rank of the others ranged from 2,073 to 11,653. The newspaper asks the question, “Much ado about nothing?”

The piece quotes an industry consultant (not me!) who offers up the claim that titles ranked below 1,000 sell fewer than 25 copies a week. Although their list prices range from $14 to $16, the titles all sell on Amazon for $9.99, so you can imagine someone saying, “All this fuss for $250 a week?”

Or $13,000 a year. Across 20 titles, that’s $260,000 for books that probably cost much less than a tenth of that amount to digitize. And there are literally millions of books that are not yet available digitally.

If Crain’s had asked me, I’d have said that the marginal books are not selling 25 copies a week; they are probably moving ten or fewer units. So I’m not making the point that e-books will soon rule us all.

But Odyssey’s effort, with little money upfront and no ongoing physical costs, may well be creating a $250,000 business in its first full year of operation. That prompts me to ask a different question: “Why isn’t every publisher already doing this?

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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