I found this interesting: the books that were to be given away for free for World Book Night have seen a big spike in sales.
But Poulter said there was a crisis caused by the “devaluation” of books and criticised the free give-away. He said: “We spend our entire day sharing our passion for books with our customers, but we have to be a business, we have to survive.” But Byng said it was “readers” who sold books, and that WBN would be “driven by passion, and that is very infectious”. Waterstone said he did not agree with Poulter, adding he would like to see the promotion return next year, only better: “Jamie is doing a fantastic job getting books out there. The book market is not a finite market, introduce people to reading, and they’ll then buy other books.”
The Nielsen BookScan data is the first hint that Byng’s view that sales will increase as a result of WBN may be validated. The numbers show Muriel Spark has received the biggest recent sales boost, with The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie up 63% between February 2011 and January. Next is Alan Bennett’s A Life Like Other People’s, up 55%, and sales of Mohsin Hamed’s Reluctant Fundamentalist up 48% the third biggest sales boost.
You can see some more of the sales data on the Bookseller’s website. I utterly agree with the sentiment that it’s readers who sell books. That’s why this genre blogoshpere is so important, but – in keeping with the theme of World Book Night – sometimes it’s worthwhile preaching to the unconverted, to those who would not normally pick up a SFF novel.
That’s one of the reasons I enjoy giving talks etc to those outside the genre as much as within it. If I can convince a handful at a time that SFF is worth reading (and, as is often the case, that they’re probably already reading a lot of SFF but they just don’t realise it) they’ll help support the genre in the future.