Way back in 2007 I ran a workshop on behalf of a local organisation called Creative Dorset for authors and those who were hoping to publish a book. During the course of the mornings proceedings I shared a slide in the presentation that I had put together from the data Nielsen had released about the numbers of books that sold in 2004. I have tried to find any updated information from Nielsen but it seems they have yet to repeat the process but I suspect, after more delving around, that the figures may look even worse than they do below.
It’s right though, the average books sold fewer than 99 copies in 2004 and according to Bowker and other industry sources that figure seems to be dropping – down to about 52 at present, although this can’t be confirmed by any actual statistical data that I can find at the moment. However, we do know that in the US over 1,000,000 books were published in 2010 and according to the US Publishers Weekly the average non-fiction book in the US sold less than 250 copies in 2010 and sold less than 3,000 copies over it’s lifetime.
I’m looking forward to getting more information if Nielsen and Bowker ever release updated statistics but I won’t be holding my breath – as I’d definitely not live that long 🙂