A couple of interesting articles about bestsellers crossed my screen this week.
The Bible and the ripped-from-the-headlines Iraq Study Group Report are books that you don’t ordinarily think of when you hear the word “bestseller,” but each story can tell you a lot about the business of publishing, and maybe something about the future of this business.
Peter Osnos’s latest Platform is about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering for the rights to be first publisher to print the Iraq Study Group Report, linked.
His take on variable pricing is of note —
“What makes all this robust sales activity notable (aside from public interest in its content) is that millions more people accessed the 142-page report gratis from all the Web sites where it was posted. In the first day, the U.S. Institute of Peace, said it alone had 730,000 downloads. The process was instantaneous and the layout exactly the same as in the book that carries retail price of $10.95.”
Plus, the latest New Yorker has a great piece about the bestselling book in America, clocking in at some 25 millions copies a year, your friendly Bible, in all its variations, and sliced, diced, and interpreted many different ways — The Good Book Business.
Money quote, “The amount spent annually on Bibles has been put at more than half a billion dollars.”
One thing in common with both books? No royalties. Well, unless maybe you have a superstar like Max Lucado involved.
Another thing in common? Most everyone already has a Bible and most anyone can download the Iraq Report for free.
Both bestsellers show you some of what readers truly value, and the “success” (hate to use that word in this case) of the Iraq Study Group Report clearly demonstrates the massive interest and concern about the war in Iraq (in case that wasn’t clear from the election!).