Thursday, July 08, 2010

Is James Patterson Really the First Author to Move 1 Million E-Units?

Yesterday, James Patterson's publisher, Hachette, put out a press release -- quickly picked up by the Associated Press -- to the effect that Patterson was the best-selling writer in e-book format, with 1.14 million units sold. Hachette declared that it was unable to find other authors who had sold more than a million units.

But did they ask Stephen King? Those of us with long memories will recall the last e-book frenzy, a decade ago, which was kicked off by King's e-only Riding the Bullet in 1999. I don't have hard numbers on its sales -- no one has hard numbers on any e-book sales, which is the problem -- but Bullet reportedly sold more than half a million units all by itself. Since then, King has published ten novels and a number of other books (including a recent Kindle exclusive, UR). He's got 175 books in his Kindle store at Amazon, all of which are steady backlist sellers in print and presumably do decently in e-book as well. If everything else he's done in the past decade has sold 700,000 units or more in electronic editions, he's clearly moved more books than Patterson did.

And that doesn't even count King's experimental The Plant serialized novel from 2000, which had 120,000 downloads of its first part and at least 40,000 downloads each of the five subsequent parts -- by my math, King sold at least 800,000 e-book units by the end of 2000, and so may have sailed over the million-copy mark several years ago. Even if we count The Plant as one product, and disallow multiple downloads for the separate parts -- though at least some readers did pay separately for each of the parts -- King was still somewhere in the neighborhood of 600-650 thousand units ten years ago.

So what intrepid AP reporter is going to call up King and his publishers, run the overall numbers, and check Hachette's math? Or has their business model withered to printing press releases and demanding payment for quotes?

No comments:

Post a Comment