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Winners and losers in the American publishing sweepstakes

New York Times publishing reporter Edward Wyatt has used some BookScan data to identify over- and underachievers among the 2005 crop of American book releases. Doing well is Joan Didion, whose The Year of Magical Thinking has sold 200,000 copies. Not doing so well are Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown (26,000 copies) and Myla Goldberg’s Wickett’s Remedy (9,000 copies). Not to mention The Martha Rules, a business advice title from Martha Stewart that has sold only 37,000 of what Wyatt implies was an initial print run of half a million.

A few qualifications may be in order, though. BookScan doesn’t capture the entire market, as Wyatt notes, which means that actual sales are likely higher than the numbers cited. And with a good 15-plus shopping days left until December 25, it may be a tad early to be throwing out sales stats. That print run on the Stewart title — publisher Rodale “planned an initial print run of 500,000,” Wyatt writes — could also perhaps be viewed with some skepticism.

Still, Wyatt’s piece also includes some general data that’s not too encouraging. “[T]he Association of American Publishers reported last month that sales of adult hardcover books, sluggish for several years, have fallen by 2 percent so far this year. Similarly, the American Booksellers Association, a trade group representing bookstores, said that overall bookstore sales in the first nine months of 2005 declined 2 percent from a year ago.”

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Click here for the New York Times article