The New York Times Bestseller List… and are print books dead?

I read recently that self-published books can’t get onto the New York Times Bestseller List. That they weren’t allowed.. or that the New York Times doesn’t recognize self-published sales. I knew, when I read it, that it was false. Black Lies, my erotic romance, hit it three times last year. But it was still a welcome sight to see Hollywood Dirt, my newest baby, hit the list. Twice. Technically, three times, because it hit the eBook list AND the Combined Print/Ebook list.

What does that mean?

If you are a reader, it doesn’t mean much. But if you are an author, or a bookseller, it means a pretty good deal.

Here’s the numbers. My first week of sales, Hollywood Dirt had 24,215 regular sales plus 4,254 presales. Those presales are included toward the NYT list sales count. So… we are talking 28,469 sales that week. It’s a lot of ebooks. That week I sold next to no physical books, due to a glitch with my print supply. So.. maybe 100. Maybe.

Hollywood Dirt, with those 28,469 sales, hit the NYT eBook list at #4. It was #4 in the country that week in Fiction eBook sales.

THAT SAME WEEK, Hollywood Dirt hit the NYT Print and eBook combined list at #8. Meaning that, out of all print and ebook fiction sales in the US, Hollywood Dirt was #8 in the country. With 28,500 sales, respectively. That surprised the hell out of me. The fact that Hollywood Dirt had NO print sales, yet held its own against books that were stacked on every bookstore shelf in the country, competed against Walmart, Target, airports and drugstores, against paperbacks with print runs of 100k or more.

It’s not that Hollywood Dirt is so great, that’s not what I’m trying to say. I’m trying to say that I know Hollywood Dirt’s numbers. And it only takes 29k sales of print AND ebook to get in the Top 10 of all books sold in the nation.

Tweet: “It only takes 29k print AND ebook sales to get in the Top 10 of all books sold in the US.” Read more>>

There are 647 Barnes and Nobles in the United States. There are 260 Books-A-Million. Over 700 independent bookstores. Plus every Walmart, Target, etc in the US. You’d think/hope that their hottest ten books would each sell… 7 copies? One a day? 2000+ bookstores, selling 7 copies of Book X, would total… 14,000 sales. Those sales should knock any ebook-only book out of the water. How can my little ebook compete with books that have a 10,000 point head start? They shouldn’t be able to. Ebooks shouldn’t rank on a Combined Print and Ebook list unless print books aren’t selling.

Tweet: Ebooks shouldn’t rank on a Combined Print and Ebook list unless print books aren’t selling. Read more>>

Its a scary thought. I want print books to succeed. I prefer reading a paperback to ebook. I, as an author, want every bookstore in this country filled to the brim. Something magical happens in places where people gather to read. I love walking down an aisle stacked with books. But it Just. Isn’t. Happening. And I don’t know how to fix it. Higher ebook prices aren’t the answer. I think smaller bookstores are the answer. I think we need specialized bookstores, focusing on certain genres, with employees that read and recommend intelligently. I’d rather have a hundred great books to choose from than 10,000. We need local book clubs, where we can read a book with a hundred others. In-store author events and readings. We need something different, we need bookstores to recognize indie books and sprinkle in new authors alongside all of the names we’ve seen a hundred times. If print books are going to be saved, we need a movement. We need publishers to change, as well as bookstores. And we need it to happen soon.


Sign up for my newsletter here!

Note, if you would like to read Hollywood Dirt, purchase links are below.