“Last year industry outsiders Jimmy Barnes and Scott Pape taught the book industry how to sell books”, wrote the Bookseller + Publisher recently.
Two working-class men who — let’s be honest — couldn’t give a Khe Sanh about a semicolon are now rubbing our dewey decimals up against famous authors like Tom Winton (or whatever his name is).
My book has officially been in the bestseller charts for 52 weeks in a row, and has sold over 500,000 copies.
(Catch me if you can, Jimmy!)
Okay, so now that I’ve bragged about the book, let me tell confess how dumb I really am:
This time last year I told my wife that books were ‘dead’.
“No one buys books anymore. It’s all about ebooks and audiobooks downloaded on Amazon”, I told her.
In the UK and the US, sales of ebooks plunged by nearly 20% last year, while sales of physical books were up 7%.
And Australians are some of the biggest book buyers per head in the world: according to Nielsen BookScan, collectively we spent close to $1 billion on 53.6 million books in 2016 … and this figure didn’t include ebooks or audiobooks.
My own experience backs this up: over the last year The Barefoot Investor has topped the charts for both ebooks and audiobooks … and yet roughly 90% of total sales were still of the dead-tree variety.
And it gets better: the bulk of these books have been bought from … shock horror! … local bookstores.
There’s a good reason for this: I’ve purposely never sold my book on my website, even though I’d get a higher clip.
Well, when I published my first book as a young and unknown author, it was booksellers who helped sell it. They recommended it to their customers, and in so doing helped me build a following. So this time round I wanted to return the favour by getting people to go out and buy the book from bookstores.
And buy they did, with many scooping up multiple copies as presents for family and friends. And that makes sense when you think about it: when was the last time you handed someone a gift-wrapped ebook for Christmas?
Tread Your Own Path!