I suspect that I have an inner accountant somewhere that has been repressed. I don't even know what accountants do beyond balancing a checkbook, but there is something in me that takes great delight in organizing things quantitatively. Actually "great delight" is probably too strong. It's more like I can't help but do it. My running and crossfit workouts are meticulously cataloged (currently on wodstack.com). I keep a list of the books I've read (reported annually here). I've been compiling details about my family tree (you can view it here). Perhaps it's not an inner accountant, but more along the lines of Freud's anal retentiveness. It's funny, though, because I'm not that way about everything. There are some things that I'm very laid back and easy going about. Like... uh... well, I'm sure there are some things.
But since entering the publishing market, tracking sales figures is one of the things that I'm compelled to do. And I'm sure there is a different disorder in the DSM-V that explains my penchant for writing personal blog posts. It is the conjunction of these two mental maladies that has resulted in my now 3rd annual posting in May that reports on the sales of my books. (find last year's here, and the prior year's here). This year it is double the fun, since I now have two books to report on.
The newest book is the Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity which I edited (with Alan Padgett), and was published on Wiley-Blackwell last summer. There is this game that academic publishers play with the libraries which want the latest research and books that will last, so Blackwell only published it in hardback for now and set the list price at $199. Of course there are various discounts, and the electronic version is cheaper. All told, by the end of 2012 they had a net sales (not gross, because there are some vendors that return previously sold copies) of 222 books for an average sale price of 72.5 GBP (all the accounting is done in pounds, since Wiley-Blackwell is based in England). My co-editor and I split 10% of this. In addition, though, we got a one-time settlement for the rights to have it published in the Blackwell Reference Online collection. They pay you once for libraries to allow unlimited access (or something like that). The hope is that in another year they'll publish the paperback version so that normal people might buy it.
My other book is Christian Thought: A Historical Introduction which was co-authored with Chad Meister and published by Routledge in 2010. So we're up to the third calendar year for reporting on it. Routledge is basically a textbook publisher, and so the sales of this book are primarily for college and university courses. Accordingly, the sales of it always jump in August and January, in preparation for the new semester. It is not easy to find out where it is being used as a textbook. A Google search turned up a large class at the University of Colorado-Boulder where it is a required text. And Amazon will now show sales by region, which lets me guess that it has been used at some school in Florida and another in Washington State. Electronic sales (mostly Kindle, I assume) were up to 56 this year. Total sales in 2012 were 515, down just slightly from 2011's 523. It looks like about 1/3 of those were sold through Amazon. Sales seem to be leveling off here. We were hoping for more in the crossover market to normal people for this book, but again the pricing of it keeps it out of their reach. We had negotiated into the contract that our royalty rate would rise from 10 to 14% if there were ever more than 3000 copies sold in a year. It appears that the publisher agreed to that because they saw no chance of it actually happening.
All told, I was responsible for 737 books being purchased in 2012. That doesn't exactly put me into upper echelon of published authors, or even of academic authors, or even of academic authors with an arboreal last name. My share of the royalties amounted to a little less than 4% of my income from my real job. Not exactly a lucrative second job. I suspect that working on these books is more than 4% of the time that I spend on my real job. But it is enough to help fund the Stump family vacation this summer. Much of the rest of my summer will be spent on book #3. The manuscript isn't due until 2014, but I've already got the column in the spreadsheet where I'll track its sales.