The case in point is from an article that appeared on January 5, 2015. Publishers Marketplace analyzed the sales figures from Nielsen Bookscan (some of which you can find on Publishers Weekly’s site.)
Those figures that we’ll deal with are these:
Nielsen Bookscan reported that print book sales—in the outlets that report to Bookscan—went up 2.4% in 2014 over sales from 2013. Half of the gain in sales—1.2%—came from a better-than-expected holiday season.
In that first week, Publishers Marketplace went deeper into the numbers than Publishers Weekly did and came out with some fascinating information, some of which I’ll deal with in the next week or two. But here’s the take-away:
All of the year’s gains and then some came from backlist, however, not newly-released titles. Frontlist unit sales fell 2 million units to 276 million, while backlist sales rose 17 million units to 359 million…
Those of us who’ve been publishing indie have known how powerful the backlist is since 2010. Fortunately for most of us early adapters, the traditional publishing industry didn’t get the memo for about three years. They started to get a clue in 2013 that there was wine in those dusty old bottles, which is why it’s become harder and harder to get rights reverted from traditional publishers in the past couple of years.