Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger and John Steinbeck wrote their ground-breaking novels more than fifty years ago. In the 1950s, when Hemingway stood at his chest-of-drawers and pounded out For Whom the Bell Tolls on his Royal Deluxe typewriter, I suspect the most influential author of the day spent little time thinking about his target markets or his productivity goals. Hemingway and the other greats of that day lived in a world very different. They had half the population, a sliver of the competition, and minimal competing technologies. The Hemingways of the world could focus on the creation of their masterpieces. Most authors today do not have that luxury.
quality product or perish. However unlike the 20th century the great authors of this day can be swept away in the tsunami of titles that flow into the world each year regardless of the quality of their work.
The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) reports 2,233,893 new books published worldwide last year. Amazon adds ~1,000,000 new titles each year. The Pew Research Center recently reported 65% of Americans read at least one printed book a year. The average is twelve printed books a year (the median four). They also reported 28% of Americans read at least one eBook, and 14% listen to at least one audiobook. Based on the current U.S. population, Pew’s findings translate into 214,000,000 printed books, 92,000,000 eBooks, and 46,000,000 audiobooks sold in a year. How many of the combined 352,000,000 books sold in America were yours?