I received a fascinating e-mail this morning from Susan MacTavish Best of Best Public Relations. According to a study published by Lulu.com (a self-publishing site), the life-expectancy of a bestselling novel has been cut in half in the last decade.
The study looked at the average number of weeks that a new No. 1 bestseller stayed on top of the hardback fiction section of the New York Times Bestseller List. Here are the results by decade:
|Decade||Average Number of Weeks to Stay on |
the No. 1 Spot
|2000s (so far)||3.0 weeks|
While this is bad news for established authors, it is potentially good news for authors hoping to hit the No. 1 spot. According to the same study, the number of novels to reach No. 1 per year, in each of the same decades was as follows:
|Decade||Average Number of Novels To Hit the No. 1 Spot Per Year|
|2000s (so far)||18.2 titles|
According to recent statistics from R.R. Bowker, U.S. publishers released 113,589 new titles in 1995. In 2005, publishers cranked out 172,000 new titles—a 51.4% increase. Bottom line: more titles are competing for the same number of available slots.
Fortunately, title output dropped by 9% from 2004 to 2005. But I don’t think this is enough to reverse the trend. “The genie is out of the bottle.” Too many media options are competing for consumers’ discretionary time. As a result, their attention span is decreasing. Somehow we have to factor this into our strategic planning. The world is changing rapidly!