Number-crunching – sales figures

Number-crunching time, as US tax deadline approaches. I thought it might be useful to post sales figures for my books. The numbers here are the total sales from when the book first went on sale to the end of the calendar year cited. Which means you can get the per year figures for 2009 and 2010 with a bit of subtracting, if you’re so inclined.

from 1st day on sale until end of 2008 2009 2010
Black Leather Rose 774 922 995
Buildup 1: Mindscan 1304 1466 1554
Buildup 2: Pulling Strings 711 857 918
Dolphin Dreams 1739 2151 2352
Lord and Master 1510 1839 2057
L&M 2: Taking Work Home 648 1020 1201
Promises To Keep 1002 1119 1200
Spindrift 659 801 858
Spindrift 2: Ship to Shore 419 480 510

Other items of interest — sales direct from the publisher’s website have dropped to a trickle, which is not surprising as all of these books have been out for at least two years – the last release I had was in August 2008, before The Day Job Ate My Brain. But over the last 18 months I keep seeing new sales coming in as they add titles to reseller’s lists. The really interesting one is that Dolphin Dreams is doing well on Amazon, and having had three months’ figures now (Jan-March), it has gone up each month. I’ll be interested to see if that’s a fluke, or if it reflects increasing Kindle ownership.

Book log: Aoike Yasuko — From Eroica With Love 1&2

25) Aoike Yasuko — From Eroica With Love 1
Re-read, previously reviewed at LibraryThing
LibraryThing entry

26) Aoike Yasuko — From Eroica With Love 2
Re-read, previously reviewed at LibraryThing
LibraryThing entry

And that’s the book log all caught up… Mind you, given the Return of the RSI, detailed book reviews may not happen for a while.

Book log: Vonda N McIntyre — The Starfarers Quartet

23) Vonda N McIntyre — The Starfarers Quartet: Starfarers
24) Vonda N McIntyre — The Starfarers Quartet: Transition

This is an in-progress review, which will be added to as I read my way through the collection.

Note: I received this as a review copy from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme.

Omnibus edition of the Starfarers Quartet, published as an ebook reprint edition. The basic concept is a near-future setting where a space habitat is being built and fitted out for the first attempt at an interstellar voyage, using a recently discovered piece of cosmic string in the Solar System as a means of accessing almost instantaneous travel to another solar system. The habitat is set up as a university campus under international control.

In the first book, the station’s purpose is being politicised, with an attempt by the US government to commandeer the habitat and re-purpose it as a military station for use in a peacekeeping mission on Earth, nominally under international control but in reality completely controlled by the US. The university faculty vote to continue their mission as planned, even if it means making an emergency run to the string and out of the solar system.

The second book begins with the Starfarer’s arrival in the Tau Ceti system, accompanied by a parting shot from the military cruiser which had been sent to stop them. The alien contact team who were the main focus of the narrative in the first book now get to do their job for the first time.

I found the first book somewhat frustrating to begin with, as I found the writing style a little hard to get on with, particularly the way a lot of point of view characters were simply dropped into the narrative with their own chapter and then abandoned for a while. It made the book feel very bitty to begin with. But once I had a handle on who all these people were and how their individual stories started to weave together, I found it fascinating. I’m looking forward to finishing the quartet.

Book log: Carola Dunn — Rattle His Bones

22) Carola Dunn — Rattle His Bones

Eighth in the Daisy Dalrymple series about a young aristocrat who writes for a living and has a bad habit of stumbling into murder mysteries. In this one Daisy is researching an article at the Natural History Museum when one of the curators is murdered. The reader knows from the start of the novel that someone has managed to switch the Museum’s collection of gemstones for high quality paste replicas, but this theft is still unnoticed at the time of the murder. Are the two connected, and how long will it take the characters to discover that there is not one crime, but two, to be investigated?

This is an entertaining 1920s cozy with a gallery of flawed but likeable characters, and a nice study of academic in-fighting and neuroses. And while the murder victim is clearly marked from the beginning as giving a great many people reason to dislike him, Dunn doesn’t make the mistake of making him a cardboard target for the killer. Daisy can see only too well why he ends up dead in a pile of dinosaur bones, but she’s also seen another side to him, and wants his killer caught.

As with previous books in the series which I’ve read, this has a murder mystery intertwined with the ongoing story of Daisy’s relationship with Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher. The book can stand alone, but I’m finding it very enjoyable to watch the progress of the long term story arc from book to book.

LibraryThing entry

Book log: James Stephens – Irish Fairy Tales

21) James Stephens – Irish Fairy Tales

Downloaded this from FeedBooks while I was in Australia and thus legal – note that this is one where it is out of copyright in life+50 jurisdictions but not life+70 jurisdictions. Collection of re-told Irish fairy stories. I’ve only read part of the book, but I’m logging it now, because while I enjoyed the stories, I’d find an entire book of them at once rather too much of a good thing.

LibraryThing entry

Book log: Jules Verne – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20) Jules Verne – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

This is an old translation now in the public domain and available from FeedBooks. I loved this book when I was a child (although I had a children’s classics edition, which undoubtedly was abridged). But I haven’t read it for decades, so I was curious to see how well it would hold up for an adult reader in the twenty-first century. The answer is “surprisingly well”. The advanced technology described by Verne is now commonplace rather than the stuff of science fiction, and the book suffers from large chunks of info-dumping about sea life that becomes very repetitive after a while, but Verne’s point of view character still does a splendid job of conveying his sense of wonder at the things he sees during his months as an involuntary guest of Captain Nemo aboard the submarine Nautilus. I skimmed some of the infodumps, but many of the scenes still have the power to thrill, and Verne does a nice job of slowly unfolding the personalities and histories of his characters.

This book is one of the roots of the modern science fiction genre, and although time has not been kind to it, I’m glad to have read it again. It’s staying on my Cybook, and I may well go and find a modern translation to read at some point in the future.

LibraryThing entry

Book log: Edgar Allan Poe — The Fall of the House of Usher

And onto the books from March. I’m back on the Cybook after a long spell of treeware, so there are several ebooks so far this month, starting with:

19) Edgar Allan Poe — The Fall of the House of Usher

Short story downloaded from FeedBooks. I can see why it’s considered a classic of the genre, but it does little for me personally. Partly a case of not really my taste in genre anyway, and partly that it suffers most unfairly from so many other writers having trodden the same path in the decades since. The FeedBooks edition has a nice Aubrey Beardsley cover llustration.

LibraryThing entry

February 2011 book log

A very late summary for my February book log. Here’s the complete list with a brief note of each book — for more detailed comments, see the individual book log entries.

11) Jonathan Gash — The Rich and the Profane

20th in the Lovejoy series of caper novels about a louche antiques dealer. Logged 13 March 2011.
LibraryThing entry

12) E.E “Doc” Smith – The Vortex Blaster

The out-of-copyright short story, downloaded from Feedbooks. Logged 13 March 2011.
LibraryThing entry

13) E.M. Forster – A Room With a View

Romance, coming-of-age, comedy, satire — the book is all these things and does them very well indeed. Logged 13 March 2011.
LibraryThing entry

14) PG Wodehouse — Right Ho, Jeeves

Fifth in the Jeeves and Wooster books. Logged 13 March 2011.
LibraryThing entry

15) Agatha Christie — The Complete Miss Marple Stories

Does what it says on the tin – every short story about Miss Marple, collected into a single volume. Logged 13 March 2011.
LibraryThing entry

16) Justin Richards — Doctor Who: The Clockwise Man

The first of the tie-in novels issued for New Who, and as such featuring Nine (Chris Eccleston) and Rose, who have landed in 1920s London and promptly get tangled up with not one but two deposed heirs to a throne. Logged 13 March 2011.
LibraryThing entry

17) Georgette Heyer – Detection unlimited

One of Heyer’s Chief Inspector Hemingway ndetective novels. Logged 14 March 2011.
LibraryThing entry

18) Dorothy L Sayers — The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

The fourth Lord Peter Wimsey book. There’s an entertaining mystery to be had here, but it’s wrapped in a superb portrait of 1928 England. The book is by turns heart-breaking and heart-warming, as Sayers turns in a virtuoso display of showing rather than telling what has happened to even the characters who on the surface seem unscathed by the Great War. Logged earlier today.
LibraryThing entry

Book log: Dorothy L Sayers — The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

18) Dorothy L Sayers — The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

The fourth Lord Peter Wimsey book. It’s Armistice Day, and ninety-year-old General Fentiman is found dead in his favourite armchair at his club. Unsurprising for a man of his age, but it turns out that the exact time of death determines who inherits a very large sum of money, for his sister died on the same day. Lord Peter happens to be on the scene, and thus gets involved when it seems merely a matter of sorting out the inheritance, but the case gradually takes on a more sinister aspect as Lord Peter realises that he may be investigating a murder.

That the case begins on Armistice Day is directly relevant to the plot, because Lord Peter isn’t the only shell-shock victim amongst the cast. The book was written and set in 1928, the tenth anniversary of the end of the war. As with the first book of the series, there is a fine and chilling description of what the Great War did to some of the survivors, but here it’s not just one scene. The whole book is suffused with the after-effects of the war, not just on the soldiers who served in the trenches, but on their whole society. There’s an entertaining mystery to be had here, but it’s wrapped in a superb portrait of 1928 England. The book is by turns heart-breaking and heart-warming, as Sayers turns in a virtuoso display of showing rather than telling what has happened to even the characters who on the surface seem unscathed.

LibraryThing entry

Book log: Georgette Heyer – Detection Unlimited

17) Georgette Heyer – Detection Unlimited

Local solicitor Sampson Warrenby has not made himself well-liked in the village, not least because of his habit of trying to have a finger in every pie there is; even, or perhaps especially, if it means pushing others out of the way. The final inconvenience he causes is to be shot dead at a time and place that leaves ten people in the village firmly in the running for chief suspect. And as Chief Inspector Hemingway soon discovers, Warrenby made a habit of collecting embarrassing information that people would rather didn’t get out, so the absence of an obvious motive is not absence of motive.

There’s an entertaining mystery to be solved, but the real point of the book is the character studies. Various stereotypes of the English village are brought to vivid life here, from the country squire to the breeder of Pekes with ridiculous names to the village doctor out of his depth and not knowing it. Heyer takes the stereotypes and makes them people, people you can sympathise with even as you laugh at their foibles. And there’s plenty of occasion for laughter, as this is often a very funny book.

LibraryThing entry