Bookstores Now Selling To The Rats

I don’t think print publishing will know what the hell to make of this — E-book sales begin to cannibalise print — so I will interpret it for them.

Sales of printed romance books have fallen for the first time since records began at a time when e-book sales have more than doubled.

The data, released as part of a seminar held yesterday with Enders Analysis, ‘Digital Seminar: e-books and their impact on the market’, showed genres such as science fiction and romance are “overperforming” thanks to the tastes of early adopters of e-books. For example, the e-book market share of the science fiction and fantasy sector globally for the 10 weeks since June was 10%, more than treble the genre’s market share of print book sales. The share taken by romance and saga books was 14%, seven times its print market share.

Can you believe that? “Overperforming”?! It takes the Suit Mentality to come up with a term like that!

Tell me, Mr. Suit, what should the level of “perform” actually be? Who devised this measurement? What demented delusional world do you live in where things line up neatly like rows of figures in a ledger? Have you looked outside at raw nature lately? How neat and orderly and regimented is that?

Seth Godin nailed what’s been happening in December 2009: It’s not the rats you need to worry about

iTunes and file sharing killed Tower Records. The key symptom: the best customers switched. Of course people who were buying 200 records a year would switch. They had the most incentive. The alternatives were cheaper and faster mostly for the heavy users.

Amazon and the Kindle have killed the bookstore. Why? Because people who buy 100 or 300 books a year are gone forever. The typical American buys just one book a year for pleasure. Those people are meaningless to a bookstore. It’s the heavy users that matter, and now officially, as 2009 ends, they have abandoned the bookstore. It’s over.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

There’s your “overperformance,” Mr. Suit-Man. The best customers are “overperforming.” The best customers have left the physical stores.

What’s left at bookstores right now are the rats. Everyone else has departed in the digital lifeboats.

You can tell who the rats are too. They’re the ones who look at a display of eBook devices and ask out loud, “Why do I want to buy this?”

Since they buy a whole two or three books per year, guess what? They don’t need to buy it! They’ll just stop reading altogether when they find out they can’t get something in print!

Now tell me again why your future isn’t that of Blockbuster’s?

1 Comment on Bookstores Now Selling To The Rats

  1. “Overperforming” has been used in scientific literature *at least* since the early 60’s. E.g., this snippet from a 1964 linguistics journal found on google books:

    But there are other sources of error, for example individual students overperforming or underperforming on the day of the test. Improving reliability does not in itself improve validity, it merely allows the test to operate nearer …

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