Selling Books

A colleague once described a book that I wrote as “selling well, but in very small numbers.” If I had a goal as a publisher, that would essentially sum it up. I’d rather my books circulate to people who genuinely appreciated them than to ascend a best seller list.

That being said, this last two weeks have been pretty special for The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. Not only do we have a series of amazing books in advanced stages of production (and ready for a fall release), but we also have two books that hit sales targets.

The Digital Press and our authors works hard to promote our books, but as a small press, our advertising budget is small. More than that, true to our laboratory roots we never think much about book sales when we pursue a book for publication. In part, this is because we give our books away for free as digital downloads and, in some cases, don’t even hold paper publishing rights to the works. As a result, we tend to get more excited about downloads than sales, but it remains intriguing and exciting to see a book sell paper copies.

This past week, both Eric Burin’s Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College (2017) and the book that Kyle Conway’s and I edited, The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota (2016) sold their 200th copy. This might not sound like much, but bear in mind that many academic monographs have print runs of fewer than 500 (and many have runs of only 300 copies). Moreover, The Bakken Goes Boom has had almost 1000 downloads and is starting to collect a scholarly citations. Picking the President has seen just a few clicks short of 500 downloads. 

Congratulations to everyone involved in these two books and their success. Download copies of these books or any of the books from the Digital Press here, and if the spirit moves you or you just prefer paper, order a copy as well! 

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