Since it’s a new month, I thought I’d summarize the magnificent sales results of making the primary portions of The Liblog Landscape, Public Library Blogs and Academic Library Blogs free, free, free! And, since March-May is probably the season in which new copies of the actual books were most likely to sell, these are probably indicative results.
- Academic Library Blogs and Public Library Blogs: Each book had one sale on CreateSpace/Amazon in March 2009 and one sale in Febr*uary 2009; Public Library Blogs had one Lulu sale in February, none in March. Neither book sold any copies in early April, before April 14, when C&I 9:6 (May 2009) provided the first portion of each book (everything except individual blog profiles) for free. Since then, sales have jumped to zero. (If there are no sales in June, both books will go permanently out of print–I’ll remove them from both sources. Additionally, that issue has underperformed–258 downloads to date, an unusually low number for the first 6 weeks of an issue. (The two essays add another 230 and 261 views respectively for public and academic library blogs. Thus, it appears that more than 500 people have seen each book section: more than ten times as many as purchased Academic Library Blogs and more than six times as many as purchased Public Library Blogs.) Consequences: Continuation of either project, at least by me, is dead. If a library school or person who believes they can do a better job would like to acquire the spreadsheets used for the books, let me know; we might be able to work something out.
- The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: This book sold three copies on Amazon/CreateSpace in March and none in February, five on Lulu in February and none in March. No copies sold from April 1 through May 6, when all but the last chapter appeared as C&I 9:7 (June 2007). Since May 6, sales have held steady at zero. To date, there have been 600 downloads for the issue, which neither bad nor wonderful for the first three weeks.
- By the way, I’m not differentiating between PDF versions (Lulu only) and paperbacks…
Can I say absolutely that, in my case, “free” does not sell books? Not necessarily–but that’s one way to interpret all this. (The other direct experiment in reader support, making annual versions of C&I available in both paperback and PDF form, the latter being pure sponsorship, has yielded the same revenue as April-May book sales.)
Consequences of the general failure of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008? I’m not sure. It depends on how rapidly we finish the “settling in” process (a slow, very slow, extremely slow process, sometimes involving rethinking decisions…), how rapidly energy returns after that, what else might come along, etc. I do know that, absent up-front sponsorship (and “absent” seems likely to be the word), doing a new version can only make sense as a labor of stupidity love or fascination.
Oh, as to the first experiment in PoD publishing: it’s up to 280 copies now and continues to sell at least one or two copies a month. It may yet reach the “magic number” (300, an arbitrary figure) of semi-success.