Book sales 2006: Goodwin's numbers

Goodwin's 2006 sales numbers, estimated here, were scrutinized here earlier this month, evoking promises to look deeper into the matter.

I have done some follow-on research. Before getting into that, a mea culpa. I equated low hardcover sales with total sales performance and misled you (and myself) based on that. I failed to check for paperback and other formats, check their ISBNs, and total their sales. I have now done that for 2006.

You will recall that a Publishers Weekly sales number of 620,000 was given in this article. The article is dated 3/27/06 and purports to be total sales figures for 2005. If these numbers hold for 2005, then my Ingram based estimates are absurd for 2006. Or are they? In fact, Publishers Weekly explains its figures this way[emphasis added],
"As always, all our calculations are based on shipped-and-billed figures supplied by publishers ... These figures reflect only 2005 sales, and publishers were instructed not to include book club and overseas transactions. We also asked publishers to take into account returns through January 31; it would be safe to surmise that not all did.
As we shall see.

For Team of Rivals, I surmise that Simon & Schuster submitted "shipped but not returned figures" - not sales figures per se. I had said there was a large overhang of unsold Rivals and I still believe this to be true. Here's the nub of the matter. The hardcover came out Oct. 25, 2005. Applying the standard 90-day book returns policy, returns of Team of Rivals would not begin shipping back to the publisher until January 25 and the shipments would not begin arriving until several days later crowding the January 31 target set by E&P. Simon & Schuster could not comply with the instructions it was given but it submitted "sales" figures anyway.

Team of Rivals even has a double asterisk in Publishers Weekly denoting that "Sales figures were submitted to PW in confidence, for use in placing titles on the lists." [Emphasis added.] S&S has given us a valuable clue as to the size of the ordering but not the succes of the title.

I should mention that in dealing out Ingram numbers, I have the option of giving out order numbers or warehouse stock but I tally sold copies. Here are the 2006 copies of Team of Rivals sold through Ingram:

HB: 15,545 (released October 25, 2005)
PB: 39,033 (released September 26, 2006)
CD: 1,535 (released October 25, 2005)
Cassette: 235 (released October 25, 2005)

Total: 57,639

You'll notice the HB total just slightly higher here from what I gave earlier. I learned from this drill that if you call too soon after the new year, Ingram gives you a number not accounting for all the returns made in December. Better to call in February for annual sales totals.

Can we reconcile the Ingram figures of 2006 with those given by S&S for 2005? No, because we have two different years and for 2005, S&S gave a hypothetical figure based on shipped copies, not sales and not including returns.

Do we have to treat Ingram-based estimates with care? Yes.