The AP reports a variety of grim measures of decline in the audiobook market. The 14 publishers who report audio sales to the AAP cite a 47 percent drop in revenue so far in 2009, while those physical audiobook sales tracked via Nielsen BookScan (which does not include any downloadable audio) have declined 20 percent in units for the year to date.
As for individuals, writer-filmmaker John Sayles’ sweeping new 1,000-page novel SOME TIME IN THE SUN has failed to find a publisher since first going on submission last fall. Agent Anothny Arnove tells the LAT, “When I went out with the book last fall, one of the editors I hoped would express interest did so — but then he was laid off. There’s a feeling that the old model isn’t working. And I think serious intellectual historical fiction will have a much harder time finding the home it deserves.” Arnove has “conceded he may eventually have to shop the book to smaller houses.”
Sayles notes, “I write a book every 15 years, and by the time I have another one done, I really don’t know anybody in the business. It’s just not my world.”
Separately, Crains notes that last week’s auction for the story of Capt. Richard Phillips, the man who saved his crew from pirates and was rescued from his kidnappers by the Navy, “drew top bids of around $500,000–half the seven-figure advance it had been expected to fetch.” There has been no deal for the Britney Spears’ memoir that was aiming for a big seven-figure payday. And Harper president of general books Michael Morrison says, “Somebody said to me recently, ‘$35,000 is the new $75,000.'”
On the larger issue, Macmillan president Brian Napack comments, “We have to worry, when we come out of the recession, whether demand will reset to previous levels. So there’s been a tremendous effort to streamline.”
Under trouble of a different kind, Jon Peters decided to “remove [his book] from the marketplace at this time,” turning down a “kind and generous offer” from HarperCollins, “my first choice of all the publishers bidding,” said to have been approximately $700,000. Details of the proposal for STUDIO HEAD were published on the internet, first on the Daily Beast but then last week on DeadlineHollywoodDaily. The second leak produced “threatened litigation by some of the most important figures in the world of show business” by Peters’ account, though one “insider” tells the Wrap, “It’s arranged hype. I don’t think there’s been any lawsuit at all.” (One editor said to us via Twitter, “What was so explosive about it? Movie stars having sex? What a con job.”)
Peters told Harper he wants to “step back and work on this project privately and quietly.”
Meanwhile, Borders is scheduled to report quarterly earnings after the close of the market today.