The Publishing Death Spiral

July 29th, 2010 | researchmaterial

Norman Spinrad just emailed me this link to what appears to be the first of a series of posts about The Publishing Death Spiral, the core of which is this:

Here’s how it works. Barnes and Noble and Borders, the major bookstore chains, control the lion’s share of retail book sales. They order centrally for all their outlets together, for instance there is a single buyer for all science fiction, all mysteries, etc. How, you may well ask, can these buyers read and pass judgement on, for example, the over 1000 SF titles published in a year?

Of course the answer is they can’t. Instead, an equation makes the buys of most of the books on the racks or blackballs the ones that don’t make it that far. It’s called “order to net.”

Let’s say that some chain has ordered 10,000 copies of a novel, sold 8000 copies, and returned 2000, a really excellent sell-through of 80%. So they order to net on the author’s next novel, meaning 8000 copies. And let’s even say they still have an 80% sell-through of 6400 books, so they order 6400 copies of the next book, and sell 5120….

You see where this mathematical regression is going, don’t you?

Read the whole thing.


The Pulp Publishing Spreadsheet

July 29th, 2010 | researchmaterial

Jess Nevins never fails to amaze me.

…if the pulps are supposed to have died around 1950, why were there so many pulps published after that? Certainly, it seemed to me that there were a lot of pulps published after 1950, and that the "death" of the pulps was overstated. But there was really only one way to resolve this: a spreadsheet (Yes, I’m a stat wonk, I guess)…

And, at the link, you will find the link to said spreadsheet, as well as all the relevant history, explanations and details.


Balam Acab

July 29th, 2010 | music

I like to think that if Cranes had formed last month rather than 20 years ago, this is what they’d sound like. "See Birds," Balam Acab.


Station Ident: Up Late

July 29th, 2010 | station ident

(“Dan Delion”)