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slanning (5049)

slanning
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Scott Lanning is currently working in Amsterdam at a hotel-booking company. The following interviews and commentaries are for entertainment only. The views and opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the views of his employer or even himself.

Journal of slanning (5049)

Thursday September 13, 2007
06:06 AM

Perl book sales

[ #34439 ]
On the POE mailing list, someone guessed that books like "Perl Best Practices" and "Perl Hacks" have probably sold 2000 copies max. Is it true? I wouldn't've guessed they are best-sellers, but that seems really low.... (Are you sure Perl isn't dying? :) :)
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  • The Mason book sold more than that (not a _lot_ more), and it's a very niche book compared to something like PBP. My guess for PBP would be in the low tens of thousands (10k-30k), but probably not hundreds of thousands.
  • I wonder if there is an updated version of this graph [oreilly.com]?
  • Like Damian, I can't give exact numbers. I will say that some 95% of books published in all genres in the world never sell 5000 copies. Both Perl Hacks and Perl Testing: A Developer's Notebook have crested that, so they've reached at least a very modest success (that is, not losing money).

    Note that neither book has ever had a Slashdot review, and both books have received only a handful of reviews anywhere. If someone reads this and thinks "Hey, I could influence the Perl book market for the positive,"

    • Where should we post reviews? That is, what 3-4 places would be most helpful for sales?

      Whenever I post a review, I've done it to my local Perl Mongers and to my journal. An author recently said, "Hey, could you post that at Amazon? It can help sales."

      I'd never given that any thought, but it made sense, so I went and published all my old tech book reviews there. If there were a few other places that you said were a great place to post, I (and probably others) would be happy to do so.

      In other words: how c
      --
      rjbs
      • My publishing friends say that a (good) review on Amazon boosts sales. I don't have anything to back that up other than marketing people telling me that.

        I'm glad to post reviews in TPR too. I'm working on some stuff to add extra, online only content to theperlreview.com too, and I'll be glad to post well-written public reviews once I get that set up. :)
      • In my experience, a good Slashdot review is worth more to a technical book than a review just about anywhere else. Good reviews on Amazon or other online bookstores are also useful. Anywhere there are a lot of people who might like the book but who aren't tied tightly into the Perl community is a good target.

        I haven't seen a correlation between tags on Amazon and sales, but I haven't seen many tags on tech books there either.

  • Learning Perl sells well, Intermediate Perl sells about 1/10th or that, and I expect Mastering Perl will sell 1/10th of Intermediate Perl (I should get my first sales report at the end of this month). I would have probably made more money taking an advance for Mastering Perl because I don't think I'll ever earn it out. I'll be happy if it ever gets to 1,000 copies sold. That's not the point though. It's a book I wanted to point people too and that I kept wishing existed. So, I wrote it. Now I can point at i