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Facts & Figures of Random House

Tucked away in the business section, New York Magazine featured some revealing, if still unsurprising factoids about the book business as seen through the eyes of America’s largest trade publisher, Random House. Every week the company releases 67 new books, but it’s the the 33,000-book backlist that supplies 80 percent of its profit. Fiction provides 55 percent of Random’s revenue while under 10 percent of revenue comes from top-10 bestsellers.

And as for the best way Random House makes money? Underpaying writers. “The most-profitable books are highly successful authors early in their career with a contract that doesn’t reflect their success,” says CEO Peter Olson. Some writers sign multi-book contracts, which pay off big if the first book’s a blockbuster. As for the reverse, well, the piece doesn’t mention how many big blockbuster debuts turned a profit or ruined a writer’s career, alas – that’s a statistic that would really have revealed much…

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