Thursday, July 27, 2006

Aaarrrgh! What a time to cut back!

So, the wonderful Chris from Bakka-Phoenix, Toronto's science fiction bookstore, called today with a classic good-news/bad-news bit.

The good news was that the October 2006 issue of Analog, featuring the first of four serialization installments of my latest novel, Rollback, arrived at the store today.

The bad news was that instead of their usual order of 30 copies, the distributor delivered only nine copies. MetroNews, which handles distribution of Dell magazines in Ontario, hastened to add that it wasn't their fault: Dell has decided to slash newsstand distribution of Analog and Asimov's here 75% across the board, at least in Ontario, so Bakka-Phoenix was actually doing well to get nine copies. Two of those nine had already been spoken for, and I've taken two, so Bakka only has five left.

They could have sold a lot more copies at Bakka-Phoenix, not just of this issue but of the next three as well, because I have oodles of fans who shop there: in 2003, the number-one bestselling hardcover for the entire year at the store was my Humans; the number-one bestselling paperback for the entire year was my Hominids.

It'll be the same at other retailers in Ontario: they'll be getting just one-quarter of the copies they used to get. Sigh.


At July 28, 2006 6:21 AM , Anonymous Hugh Staples said...

It may be that over the past year or two, sales of Analog in Ontario have been unimpressive. If so, I can understand their desire to cut back. What the beancounters at Dell are obviously failing to take into account, however, is that this month’s issue features one of the top-selling SF authors in Canada.

Oh well. Maybe this will help sales of the hardcover when Tor releases it next year.

At July 28, 2006 9:54 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Thanks, Hugh. It'd be interesting to know if Dell magazines has cut back its newstand distribution all across Canada, and indeed, across the US as well.

According to figures published in the February 2006 LOUCS for the US, both ASIMOV'S and ANALOG have been plummeting in newstand sell-through; those are the two Dell magazines in the SF field. For comparison, I'm also listing the figure for the only other major SF/F digest, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION:

% Newsstand copies sold:
(copies sold; copies returned)

2003: 61% (8,883; 5,729)
2004: 50% (5,446; 5,532)
2005: 30% (4,614; 10,776)

2003: 60% (7,668; 5,088)
2004: 34% (3,936; 7,564)
2005: 29% (3,397; 8,181)

2003: 44% (4,881; 6,239)
2004: 40% (3,886; 5,799)
2005: 44% (3,882; 4,814)

As you can see, F&SF is doing better than ASIMOV'S in actual sales by shipping 3,367 fewer copies.

In general, by the way, it's worth noting the lamentable state of the SF magazine industry, which has steadily declined, year after year. Here are total paid circulation figures for the big three in 1992 and 2005:

ANALOG: 78,000; 30,547
ASIMOV'S: 72,000; 21,447
F&SF: 56,078; 18,740

Except for tiny bumps, these have been straight-line diagonal graphs heading for oblivion, sad to say.

At July 28, 2006 11:52 PM , Anonymous Judy said...

It's too bad that your local fans won't be able to pick up a copy of Analog, but will the serialization still be available in the electronic version of the magazine for sale on Fictionwise?

At July 29, 2006 12:03 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Absolutely! (And that's how I read the SF magazines these days: I subscribe to ANALOG, ASIMOV'S, and F&SF through

At July 29, 2006 6:12 PM , Anonymous Brian L. Raney said...

I let my subscription lapse a few months ago because I found that I could pick up a copy faster than the mailman could deliver it to me. But, now, I can't find the magazine anywhere, here, in Chateauguay! While they still sell Dell's crossword puzzles and the like, the shop I would normally buy my copy of Analog and Asimov, this month, tells me that it's not offered for sale by their distributor.

I guess if I want to read ROLLBACK before the Tor release, I too will need to buy an electronic copy, when available, off Fictionwise.


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