Book Tracking Notes


I thought this was interesting, in a flattering sort of way!

I purchase pretty much all of my books as used books or remainders or as new but with very steep discounts. I usually have to wait a few months for the popularity to fade on something new, then I either snap up a remainder (for overstocks) or pick up a cheap used edition (for fad books). This has not happened with LF, and it is still not happening, even with the release of your paperback copy. The highest compliment that I can pay to you and your book is that the cheapest way for me to buy your book was in a bookstore, new (though with a nice store discount). I buy hundreds of books each year, and in the past five years, the only books that I remember having to pay new price were for Victor Davis Hanson’s A War Like No Other and Walter Russell Mead’s Special Providence. (In a related note, apparently if you also used your middle name, it would boost your sales.) Both held their value and didn’t have remainders available throughout their first year of publication, though the prices eventually dropped somewhat, with further printings and paperback copies being available.
I’m sure that there are industry experts out there–for the record, I have no formal experience beyond buying lots of books online for the cheapest prices possible–who can and maybe already are telling you this, but your book could easily stand to have more printings. The people who have bought it are not selling their used copies, which means interested readers have to buy new . This could be because your readers treasure it as a future reference or because they’re burning it; either way it helps your sales.
Most NYT non-fiction bestsellers are fad books that large numbers of people buy then dump, also in large quantities. If you search on Amazon for whatever polemic comes to mind, you’ll see the low sales price for the used books, which is a sure sign of a fad book or a book that publishers over-printed. I’ve yet to see your book advertised on Amazon (new or used) for less than about 80-90% of its cover price. Your book is being passed around, which is what readers do with books that are thought-provoking. Depending on your priorities–making money versus influencing people–this should either motivate you to print more at a cheaper price or make you pleased that so many people are obviously reading it. The real test of the staying power of your book will be a few years from now when, assuming it is being used in college courses, students who have been exposed to it will have to either sell it at discount or keep it. If you take a quick peek at whatever books you (loved and) kept from college, you’ll see that their sales and prices are probably still quite high. If you look at the books that you had to buy in college but hated (for me, I think first of La Fronteras), you’ll see that they’re usually available for pennies as used copies.
If your book and/or your next published work were available as stock options, I’d buy. Your up-side should be huge, unless someone else comes along with a book that takes away your college niche. If you can somehow get Obama to curse you out on TV, Cosmo would be rolling in bling.
God bless,
[Name withheld]
P.S.–I loved your book. A social studies teaching friend is currently borrowing it, and my wife is waiting to read it next.


Subscribe to National Review