Dear Miss Snark,
Stolen from POD-DY mouth:
Regarding Neilsen Bookscan's tracked sales of books for 2004 (1.2 million), here are the results:
Of those 1.2 million, 950,000 sold fewer than 99 copies.
Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies.
Only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies.
Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000 copies.
Only 10 books sold more than a million copies each.
The average book in the United States sells about 500 copies
First, before everyone starts wearing black, reading Sartre, smoking Gaulouise and generally thinking about diving into the gin pail full time, let's remember a few things.
1. Bookscan, despite its name, tracks ISBN numbers not books. The difference is that you can have several different ISBN numbers for ONE title: hardcover, trade paper, mass market, special editions. Calenders have ISBN numbers too. As an author of one title, you could have three, maybe four ISBN numbers sliding over the scanner and ringing up royalties.
2. Bookscan doesn't measure sales at WalMart.
3. Bookscan itself says it only captures about 70% of the hardcover market, and offers no stats on how much of the paper market it captures.
4. Bookscan measures retail sales, which excludes sales to libraries.
5. There is no such animal as the average book.
Go back to tormenting yourself with sentence structure, back story and the death of chicklit. The state of the industry will be there for you to anguish about later.