Thursday, December 15, 2011

What's hot for Christmas

What's hot in adult SF books this Christmas? Let's take a look at Bookscan's top 50 bestsellers this week. With a tie at #50, there are actually 51 books on the list and they break down as follows:
  • 16 older books published in the 1950s-1990s, including Snow Crash, 2 editions of Hitchhiker's Guide, 3 Ender's Game series editions and a box set, 2 Philip K. Dick novels, one classic each from Heinlein, Vonnegut, Herbert and McCaffrey, and 3 other books from the 60s-70s. Strangely, the "deluxe" edition of George RR Martin's Game of Thrones (book 1) is also on the list, despite it being Fantasy.
  • 16 media tie-ins (including the #1, 2, 5, 6, 9 and 10 spots: 7 Star Wars, 4 Warhammer, 2 Star Trek, 2 HALO, 1 BioShock)
  • 3 books published in 2008 (2 editions of Meyer's The Host and Card's Ender in Exile)
  • 2 books published in 2009 (The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi and Boneshaker by Cherie Priest)
  • 5 books published in 2010 (Echo by Jack McDevitt, All Clear by Connie Willis, Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold, Out of the Dark by David Weber and How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu)
  • 9 books (non media tie-ins) published this year (with links to Amazon):
#4 Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
#7 Hellhole by Brian Herbert
#11 Citadel: Troy Rising II by John Ringo
#15 March In Country: A Novel of the Vampire Earth by E. E. Knight (hardcover)
#16 Earthbound by Joe Haldeman (hardcover)
#21 How Firm a Foundation by David Weber (hardcover)
#32 Mecha Corps: A Novel of the Armor Wars by Brett Patton
#39 Kris Longknife: Daring by Mike Shepherd
#45 The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge (hardcover)
So in summary, around a third of the books are old classics, a third are media tie-ins, and a third are newish but less than a fifth are new this year. And only 9 books by women in that top 51, of which 3 are media tie-ins.

How many books do you have to sell to make it onto the list? Well, the bottom 7 sold less than 300 units each. Which, at most likely less than a dollar per paperback going to the author, isn't going to buy a Ferrari any time soon. Only the top 5 sold more than 1000 units each.

What can we learn from this? Don't quit your day job, and if you do, write Romance.


Unknown said...

lol, well it sure doesn't pay to be an author. Though I wonder what the stats look like for UF, para-romance (which I don't consider to be fantasy, at all), and any sort of modernized fairy tale since those sub-genres seem to be all the rage right now.

I'm crossing my wires that SF makes a come back, perhaps when privatized space explorations takes off, though, that may takes years, maybe decades, to get going.

Sara Creasy said...

SF is certainly a disproportionately small chunk of the fiction market. Romance, which I assume includes paranormal romance, is a huge chunk. And all those new UF readers must have come from somewhere - I wonder how many used to read SF.

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