Award-Winning Editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and More

Tag: year in review

What’s in a name?

Picked this up from Sean’s blog this morning:

“New site Clarkesworld Magazine has to date published mostly fantasy, in spite of its title, and rather sexually explicity fantasy at that, but is attracting high-level professional writers, and is another site to watch.”—Gardner Dozois

This comes from the current issue of Locus, which I haven’t picked up from my PO box yet.   I am amused.

 “in spite of its title”

My name is Neil Clarke.  Though it would be cool if Arthur C. Clarke was related in some way, as far as I can tell, he isn’t.  The name of the magazine comes from the name of the bookstore.  The name of the bookstore came from the name of the domain we owned.  That domain was originally purchased as a site for my family, the Clarkes.  So, as much as I admire his work, he wasn’t in my mind when any of this happened. 

“rather sexually explicit”

Wow.  The first six stories do contain some sex or sexual references in them.  I’d certainly like to hear what other people have to say.  In my opinion, that phrase is a bit too strong.  Reminds me of porn.  Either way, it wasn’t intentional and not one of our goals.

“and is another site to watch”

All is forgiven.  You are a wise man Mr. Dozois.  Thank you!

Clarkesworld Books 2006 Bestsellers – Part Three

The following is based on 2006 sales data from Clarkesworld Books. All books and magazines were sold online or at conventions. Where possible, I have listed 2005 sales data rankings.

Books Sold by Author
1 – Keene, Brian (2)
2 – Erikson, Steven (1)
3 – Powers, Tim (-)
4 – Martin, George R. R. (8)
5 – Hill, Joe (-)
6 – Esslemont, Ian Cameron (3)
7 – Kiernan, Caitlin R. (-)
8 – Lumley, Brian (-)
9 – Moore, Christopher (-)
10 – Stross, Charles (-)

Brian Keene and Steven Erikson switched places this year.  Brian is a great supporter of our store.  He regularly plugs us on his blog, forum, and website.  He also made us the sole place (outside of his signings) where you can get inscriptions.  He had a few limited editions and all his paperbacks continue to do well for us.

We have a pretty nice following from Steven Erikson’s fans too.  They’ve routinely pushed us on their forum and a lot of his US fans come to us to get the UK limited and trades of books that won’t be available here for a while.  Ian Cameron Esslemont (the only author in the top ten who had a single book earn them their place in this list)  writes in the same world  (the world he co-developed) as Erikson.  So the fan base overlaps considerably.  Imports did VERY well.

A lot of new people in the list, but people like Tim Powers and GRRM can go some time between books, so it’s anyone guess if they can come back next here.  As a fan and reader, I certainly hope so.  I don’t think we have any worries about Charles Stross publishing a good amount of new books.

Joe Hill had 20th Century Ghosts (which shows now sign of slowing) racking up sales for what seems like forever.  Still one of the best collections I’ve read.  Yet another import. 

Caitlin R. Kiernan, Christopher Moore, and Brian Lumley certainly have more books scheduled for 2007.  Brian had a good bump in this years standing thanks to some older limited editions that we had in stock.  Caitlin received a similar boost, her sales on current books are much better.  Most of Christopher Moore’s sales this year were due to the signed copies of A Dirty Job.  Will Love Bites do as well? 

Bestselling Books by Title

1 – The Bonehunters by Steven Erikson (tpb, hc)
2 – Night of Knives by Ian Cameron Esslemont (tpb, hc)
3 – The Ice Dragon by George R. R. Martin
4 – Three Days to Never by Tim Powers (hc, limited hc)
5 – Twentieth Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (tpb, hc, slipcased hc)
6 – The Rutting Season by Brian Keene (tpb, hc)
7 – Take the Long Way Home by Brian Keene
8 – The Healthy Dead by Steven Erikson (pb, hc)
9 – The Thousandfold Thought by R. Scott Bakker
10 – Blindsight by Peter Watts

Yes, this is a little unusual.  Any edition of the book was counted as a sale for that title.  I’ve indicated the formats of copies sold that were used to create the totals.  I considered three separate lists and that might have been more fair to the mass market paperback authors, but looking at the final numbers, all the combinations of formats were simultaneous or near simultaneous releases.

Three of the top five books sold in our store were imports.  That should tell me something and it will certainly be something I think about over the next few weeks.

Interestingly enough, our #1 author doesn’t have a book in the top five, but he has two in the top ten and all his paperbacks fell into the top 20.  Our #2 author had the #2 and #8 books and one other in the top 20.

Signed books definitely made a difference in sales.  We had signed copies of books numbers 3 through 9 in different editions.

I’m very pleased that Blindsight made the top 10.  I’ve made no secret that this was my favorite novel of the year.  Quite a few people seemed to be paying attention to all the yapping I did about this book and we often had trouble keeping it in stock or even getting copies from the publisher.  I think I used every source I had at my disposal to keep making it available again.

And that’s the end of my year in review at Clarkesworld Books.  I’ll be doing a lot of financial stats over the next couple of weeks that won’t get posted, but will set the direction for the store in the next year.  Should be interesting to see if my perceptions match reality.

Clarkesworld Books 2006 Bestsellers – Part Two

The following is based on 2006 sales data from Clarkesworld Books. All books and magazines were sold online or at conventions. Where possible, I have listed 2005 sales data rankings.

Bestselling Magazines

1 – Fantasy Magazine (-)
2 – Fantasy & Science Fiction (1)
3 – Weird Tales (2)
4 – Asimov’s (3)
5 – Analog (4)
6 – Interzone (5)
7 – Subterranean (9)
8 – Cemetery Dance (8)
9 – H.P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror (7)
10 – Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (-)

Magazine sales included single issue, back issue, and subscription sales, basically anything we received money for.  A subscription counted the same as a single issue.  We take subscriptions for three of the magazines listed (Fantasy, Weird Tales, and Subterranean).

The big surprise this time is probably Fantasy Magazine.  I’ll tell you that the difference between 1st and 2nd was in the single digits, so if you’re one of those people who thinks I’m crazy for including subscriptions, you can switch the first two and make your own list.  Anyhow, Fantasy was directing people to our site for subscriptions, preorders, covers, for the better part of the year.  It was also one of two magazines that often had multiple copy (of the same issue) sales.  (The other was Interzone.)  These were often friends or family of their contributors.  As it becomes more widely available, I suspect we’ll see a drop in our sales of Fantasy Magazine. It should be interesting to see if it can maintain this spot.

There is no need to explain how F&SF ends up where it is.  Weird Tales, however, is #3 largely because of back issue sales. The same can be said of HPL, which barely did anything new this year.

The gap between Asimovs and Analog is closing.  If I map out the trends, Analog may very well overtake Asimovs in the next year.  Our back issue sales for Analog seem to be growing faster.

Where’s Realms of Fantasy?  We only started stocking that a few months ago, but I’d be willing to bet that they’ll make the list next year.  Same goes for TTA/Black Static if they start publishing again.  2007 will also see the debut of the signed print versions of Clarkesworld Magazine.  Being the publisher of that magazine, I’ll be quite disappointed if we don’t make the cut. 🙂

When we did this last year, I noticed that the majority of our magazine sales were back issues.  This continued to be the case again this year.  It was particularly true with the magazines that are typically available in neighborhood bookstores.  There are also a number of international customers that will buy 2-3 months of issues at a time to save money on shipping.

Still to come:

Bestselling Author
Bestselling Books by Title

Clarkesworld Books 2006 Bestsellers – Part One

The following is based on 2006 sales data from Clarkesworld Books. All books and magazines were sold online or at conventions. Where possible, I have listed 2005 sales data rankings.

Percentage of Books Sold by Format

46% – Hardcover
25% – Trade Paperback
23% – Mass Market Paperback
6% – Chapbook

I can’t find the exact numbers from last year, but I know that hardcover and chapbook sales increased their percentages. The chapbook number will probably slide back down. I think this was just a blip from a few strong titles.

Bestselling Publisher (including backlist)

1 – TOR (1)
2 – Subterranean Press (5)
3 – Random House (6)
4 – Penguin (3)
5 – PS Publishing (4)
6 – HarperCollins (2)
7 – Leisure Books (7)
8 – Night Shade Books (10)
9 – Prime Books/Wildside (8)
10 – Golden Gryphon (9)

TOR maintains it’s top spot. This was pretty much the way it worked all year. The big surprise was Subterranean’s leap up and HarperCollins fall. Subterranean has had a pretty solid year. I can only think of a couple of books that didn’t sell as well as we had hoped. HarperCollins was a saved from being beaten by Leisure by the sales of just a few titles. Of course, I have to point out that Leisure is only doing this well because of the sales of Brian Keene’s books. Without him, they probably wouldn’t have made the top 15.

Next time:
Bestselling Magazines
Bestselling Author
Bestselling Books by Title

A few of my favorites for 2006

Some traditional and not-so-traditional categories (all based on content, not construction or presentation) for books/stories published and read in 2006:

Best Novel
Blindsight by Peter Watts

Best First Novel
Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell

Best Collection
The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford

Best Chapbook
The Bible Repairman by Tim Powers

Best Story (this was a tough one)
The American Dead by Jay Lake

Best Book Published Only in the Small Press
Alabaster by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Best Related
Plumage from Pegasus by Paul Di Filippo

“Where Are You?” Award
The Third Alternative/Black Static

All in all, I had a lot of good books and stories to chose from this year.  Despite reading more Fantasy than Science Fiction, I found the majority of my favorites to be Science Fiction.  For example,  John Scalzi and Charles Stross would take the remaining top three places for best novel if I extended these lists.  Tim Powers would likely be the highest fantasy author on the list and Jeff Vandermeer a little further down.  I think I’m just becoming jaded with the current state of fantasy, with a heavy reliance on sequels and stories that don’t end.  Perhaps this is another reason I’m finding myself more drawn to short fiction over the last few years.

So, that’s my meaningless list.  How about you?

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