Sunday, December 26, 2010

Didn't it Seem Like a Music-Filled Christmas?

I could be totally wrong about this, but it felt like this was a particularly musical Christmas. This is not just because Jason brought in a great set of bargain CDs, or because we're now in our second year of doing the NPR selections through Baker and Taylor, but just in sales of books about music of all types. Here is our top ten for fall.

1. Life, by Keith Richards (In some ways, reminds me of the Ted Kennedy from 2009. You just didn't expect a book this good. Also same parent company publisher, though different imprint.)
2. Just Kids, by Patti Smith (the paperback, NBA winner)
3. Apollo's Angels, by Jennifer Homans (event on 2/3/11)
4. Finishing the Hat, by Stephen Sondheim (with #3, top 10 NYT)
5. Bob Dylan in America, by Sean Wilentz (it paid to beat the Greil Marcus to market)
6. Decoded, by Jay Z
7. Frank: The Voice, by James Kaplan
8. Coltrane on Coltrane, by Chris DeVito (our indie publisher representation)
9. Best Music Writing 2010, edited by Ann Powers (our best-of rack really works well)
10. The Big Payback, by Dan Charnas (a late NPR piece really spurred sales)
11. Why Mahler, by Norman Lebrecht
12. Bob Dylan Writings 1968-2010, by Greil Marcus

It's a little of everything, except for young-skewing pop, with an extra heaping helping of baby boomer rock, particularly when you look at the huge numbers of #1 and #2. No Justin Bieber, alas. I'd say even Jay Z is an old master of rap, and the book is no slapdash memoir.

We've been wondering about the problem of gifting downloads, which I assume is the issue with music nowadays. In many ways, it's like a gift card. We sell a LOT of gift cards, but lots of people don't want to give gift cards. So perhaps some people are turning to books, where they can definitively give what you want. Yes, people can exchange, but I don't think it's the same as gift cards.
I honestly have no clue, being that I am so undigital. When I want music, I still buy CDs. So maybe I was the wrong person for this post, but I was the only one who had our bestseller list.

So that makes me wonder about the future of book gifting, as more people make the move to digital. A bundle option would solve the problem, wouldn't it? Well, there would be other problems, like what if someone downloaded the book and tries to return the digital one. I'm sure publishers could solve that, couldn't they? Maybe not.

It's an interesting list anyway.

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