Who actually buys books today?

obama at prairie lightsAuthor, beware!

Most books today are selling only to the authors’ and publishers’ communities. Everyone in the potential audience for a book already knows of hundreds of interesting and useful books to read but has little time to read any of them. Therefore people are reading only books that their communities make important or even mandatory to read. There is no general audience for most nonfiction books, and chasing after such a mirage is usually far less effective than connecting with one’s communities.

If you’re thinking about writing a book, keep this in mind: last year in the United States more than 300,000 new or revised titles were published. Another 184,000 went into print for the first time in the UK. (In China the number was 440,000!) To say that you’ll have a lot of competition is a understatement of the highest order.

My friend — also my editor and publisher — Steve Piersanti, who founded and runs Berrett-Koehler Publishers, has been tracking sales and other key publishing industry data for many years and frequently updating it. This is from his most recent report. 


Mal Warwick

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