One in Ten Books Makes Money

“We estimate that out of every 10 hardcover adult books, seven lose money, two break even and one is a hit,” [according to Albert Greco, a Fordham University economist who analyzes business trends in the book world.] “So, of course, this business is secretive about sales. Would you want to tell the world that 70 percent of your output is losing money?”

From an interesting article about the secrecy in sales in the publishing industry from The Seattle Times. I wonder, though, how this compares to the movie or record industry? It looks to be the same. One in ten records turn a profit. And, too, one in five movies turns a profit.


One in ten records turn in a profit. Here it is in in a FAQ for the RIAA

The recording industry is a high-risk industry in which record companies invest more than one billion dollars each year in new musical artists, most of whom are not successful. In addition, more than 90% of all recordings released each year fail to make a profit. Record companies absorb these financial losses. For the few artists who are commercially successful, record companies can only recoup their investment if albums are produced. Since an artist unilaterally controls the creative process and – even after accepting advances – can choose not to produce albums during the term of a contract, a record company needs to have the right to seek damages.

Two in ten movies turn a profit. Here it is in a reference to something Jack Valenti said in regard to pirating movies in 2002 via O’Reilly:

“Because making movies is so expensive, only two in 10 films ever retrieve their production and marketing investment from domestic theatrical exhibition. Distributors have to use other venues — delivery systems such as cable, satellite, TV stations, videocassettes, DVDs, international markets.”

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