Stalking Invisible Book Sales An Anti-WYSIATI Approach

April 2013
by Judith Appelbaum

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A new survey of IBPA members has just confirmed what much broader earlier surveys also found: Smaller publishers make sizable sales that nobody adds up. The latest survey, which drew a 10 percent response, indicates that even the largest publishers in this population of roughly 3,000 make more than half their sales independently of their distributors, in channels where no one tracks aggregate sales of books.

Those untracked sales may be sales to nonbook wholesalers or retailers, sales to consumers online or in person, and/or sales to educational institutions, corporations, and associations, as well as other “special” or “nontraditional” sales that established systems for counting book sales can’t see.

What happens when important information is invisible? According to Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman in his bestseller Thinking Fast and Slow, what happens is: “You cannot help dealing with the limited information you have as if it were all there is to know. You build the best possible story from the information available to you, and if it is a good story, you believe it. Paradoxically, it is easier to construct a coherent story when you know little, when there are fewer pieces to fit into the puzzle.”…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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