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Weblog:   OSCON 3.5: Writing, Reviewing, and Instigating O'Reilly Books: Will, Skill and Time
Subject:   The Bottom Line
Date:   2005-08-04 12:13:08
From:   Sysadmn
So what kind of sales does the "average" O'Reilly book do? What's the minimum for them to break even? It's hard to make an (individual) business case to put in a couple of man-months if the expected return is, say, 2,000 copies at $29.95 retail first year, and quite another story for 20,000 copies at $49.95.
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  • Geoff Broadwell photo The Bottom Line
    2005-08-04 19:18:18  Geoff Broadwell | [View]

    There were a few numbers thrown out during the session, none of which exactly matches your question, but might be closer to what you want to know anyway.

    He estimated that an O'Reilly book can be expected to net around $20K - $70K for its author (I can't remember if this was "the first year" or "per edition").

    For a single title, 60-70K books sold per year is high these days -- it used to be low, but for the last several years the market had been dropping 20% per year or so. Thankfully this has settled down so that this year is about even with last year.

    The O'Reilly record holder is Java in a Nutshell, which has sold 600-700K copies in its life. He guessed that only K&R and perhaps Stroustrup had sold more copies in the programming industry.

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