The O'reilly Radar blog this week talks about the landscape of the computer book market. This is something that is, of course, very important to both O'Reilly, and my publisher, Apress (not to mention me). It's a good read, but the gist of it is fairly pessimistic. Computer book sales are down, just like they were during the post-dot-com bubble, but actually a little worse.
I really like the job O'Reilly did on their visualizations. I hate charts for their own sake, but O'Reilly did a really good job with them.
The thing that is incredibly interesting to me, is that in this down economy, the brightest star in the computer book publishing world appears to be "Mac Programming", a category which (at least according to O'Reilly) includes iPhone programming books.
I blush to disclose (I'm far too noble to lie*) that Beginning iPhone Development, the book I co-wrote, appears to be contributing more than a little to this. Our latest BookScan numbers, which don't include online sales, independent booksellers, or academic sales, has us at over 11,000 books sold in less than three months. If the information I've been given is correct, we've moved ahead of all other iPhone programming books, with a several thousand book gap over our nearest competitor.
Now, selling 11,000 won't put us on a best-seller list or make us rich, but it is a darn good number for a programming book, especially a niche platform programming book. And when you factor in that there's probably another 30% on top of that which can be attributed to online, academic, and independent bookstore sales, the number is probably more like 15,000 copies in three months, to which I can only say "wow". This experience has already far exceeded any hopes or expectations I had and any person who bought a copy of the book rocks.
* Yes, that is, indeed, a reference to a Broadway song. I'm not quite that conceited.