Snow Queen and the Slump of Print

Last month, I wrote a blog post looking at my early numbers for The Snow Queen’s Shadow [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]. Based on those early numbers, the print sales seemed pretty much in line with what I’d seen for other books.

“If you eliminate Red Hood, then according to Bookscan, the new book sold more print copies in its first week than any of my previous books … What does this all mean? Not too much, to be honest. I’m one author, and there could be any number of factors going on here.”

It’s almost two months since Snow Queen came out. Since then, Borders has officially gone into bankruptcy. George R. R. Martin’s new book came out, which I’m told cannibalized some fantasy sales across the board. And B&N has started cutting back on their orders.

So I put together a comparison of total print sales for the first eight weeks of each of my books:

Keeping in mind that Red Hood got some additional display space and advertising push, this is … still better than I was expecting to see. Snow Queen has slipped behind the other princess books, but continues to outsell the goblins. Not too bad.

On the other hand, the numbers for Snow Queen include a visible boost in sales when Borders declared bankruptcy and people started rushing out to buy books at 40% off. That’s a short-term gain, and I expect to see another dropoff once Borders closes its doors for good.

And of course, I won’t know how the e-book is selling for quite some time.

In conclusion … I don’t know. I’ve been pointed to more “Publishing is DOOMED!!!” articles recently, and all I can think is “Bored now.” I don’t see publishing disappearing any time soon.

Changing, yes. Continuing to work toward an equilibrium point between print and e-books, sure. Causing some people to freak out like poo-flinging monkeys on crystal meth, absolutely.

I don’t know what publishing is going to look like five or ten years from now. I don’t know if the death of Borders will lead to a resurgence in the independent bookstores, or if brick & mortar stores will continue to decline. I don’t know whether the mass market format will go away, replaced by print-on-demand and e-books. I don’t know.

But then, if I wanted a stable, secure, unchanging career, writing fiction might not have been the best choice.

I do know that people enjoy stories. Publishing is changing, but love of story has been a core part of our species for as long as we can remember. While the delivery of those stories will continue to evolve, the demand for those stories isn’t going away.

So as for me, I’m just going to keep writing, and I hope y’all will continue to read and enjoy those stories with me.