While it’s heartening to hear Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, his followup to The DaVinci Code, sold one million copies in its first day in publication (across US, UK, and Canada) – rising tide carries all boats and all that – I can’t help but wonder if publishing is screwing itself out of a major opportunity. Amazon and B&N have reported record ebook sales for the title, but nobody, including Random House, is releasing any numbers.
This is particularly frustrating after all the discussions lately about day-and-date for ebook and print. Twelve’s holding off simultaneous release for their recent Ted Kennedy memoir True Compass, unlike Random House for Brown’s book. How can the industry learn from these experiments if everyone’s playing it so close to the chest?
Those outside the industry may say it’s just normal business. And you would have a point, if it weren’t for the transparency commonplace to print titles via Nielsen Bookscan. I can look up right now approximately how many print titles any number of blockbuster titles have sold. But we have no such data for the booming ebook market. And if publishers are expected to make day-and-date, pricing, and format decisions as this sector grows, don’t you think sales data is something to take into account?