Posted by BE on December 31st, 2010
The leader in the latest Listener looks at the likely effect of the e-book on the publication and sale of the printed word. As a virtual non-reader, now for the first time enjoying reading newspapers, magazines and books on my iPad, I suspect that the effect, if not fatal, will be both negative and significant.
But what interested me most in the Listener editorial was to learn that, in an otherwise flat book market in 2010, Annabel Langbein’s – her surname, if you’re interested, means ‘longlegs’ – The Free Range Cook had sold 88,400 copies. As the Listener rightly pointed out, ‘This is a phenomenal figure for a New Zealand-published book, which would more commonly sell fewer than 5,000.’ ‘Phenomenal’ may almost be an understatement. It’s bloody amazing.
It helps of course to have your own television series. Thanks in no small part to the small screen, the newly-damed Alison Holst may well have sold more cookbooks than Ms Langbein, but not in a single year. And there were Graham Kerr and Des Britten and Hudson and Halls and others whose names I have forgotten.
But you don’t have to be on television to sell a cookbook. Indeed the cookbook seems to have displaced the sports book as the publication most likely to succeed. Non-fiction authors expecting their just-published memoir to head the top-ten-selling non-fiction books in any one week, are likely to find themselves at #9 for the first week and nowhere at all thereafter. To rub salt into the wound, six of the books above them will have been cookbooks. As a nation we appear to be obsessed with food. And our obsession is fed and fattened by television, where you can not only see three cooking programmes on a single channel on a single evening, but indulge yourself in non-stop, 24-hour viewing of channels devoted to nothing else.
You can of course do that for free, or virtually for free. But you have to buy a cookbook. So the question remains – why do Kiwis buy so many cookbooks? Read the rest of this entry »