Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Year-end books: E-sales surge; where's Oprah?
E-books now account for about 20% of the market — more than double a year ago. An even bigger surge is expected this week and next month, with people unwrapping their new e-readers and tablets. In the next few years, e-books are likely to match print sales and eventually overtake them. For readers, books have never been more accessible or plentiful. But no one is sure what it means for traditional publishers, authors and bookstores.
Who needs publishers?
Can you make a living writing and selling e-books for 99 cents? A handful of authors, rejected by traditional publishers, did just that and more. Fifteen self-published writers cracked the top 150 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list, threatening publishers' traditional business model. Among them: Michael Prescott, who says he earned more than $300,000 before taxes this year by selling more than 800,000 digital copies of his self-published thrillers.
Jobs biography well-timed
Even before Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died Oct. 5 at age 56, Walter Isaacson's biography, Steve Jobs, was destined to be a big book. The publisher moved up the bio's publication date, and it arrived in stores 19 days after Jobs died. The outpouring of tributes — unprecedented for a business leader — helped make the book a smash hit.
Hemingway also rises
Fifty years after his suicide (by shotgun), Ernest "Papa" Hemingway was all the rage thanks to a best-selling novel and a hit movie. The Paris Wife, a novel by Paula McLain, revived interest in Hadley Richardson, Hemingway's spurned first wife. Director Woody Allen included a hilarious parody of Hemingway (portrayed by Corey Stoll) in the hit comedy Midnight in Paris.
For the first time since 1996, no Oprah Book Club selections made best-seller lists. That's because Winfrey, who gave up her syndicated talk show in May after 25 years, didn't make any televised reading recommendations. Last spring, without offering any details, she told USA TODAY, "I'm going to try to develop a show for books and authors" on her fledgling cable network, OWN. But that hasn't happened yet.