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shinros

GW's Black Library Sales are slumping slightly. (A discussion)

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As is my opinion with a lot of things GW does, they really need to give the BL a subscription service. Let us give the $20 a month (au) or whatever and give us access to all the books and audiobooks or even a rotation of 10 or 20. (GW should be doing this with Codex/Battletomes as well). Honestly I just don't have the energy or time to get through the amount they put out, so I'm less willing to even give things a try that don't have absolutrly glowing reviews

Edited by Hypephoon
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For me there was an interesting comparison between Dark Harvest, which had very grounded/believable settings and was easy to pick up, and the latest Gotrek book, which was a little fantastical for me. Grubby villages and straightforward roles for supporting characters vs a high fantasy setting and characters that I struggled to visualise. It’s a bit of a trap AoS can fall into from time to time and can make it hard for BL novels in the setting to shine. 
 

For me the limited edition release schedule doesn’t work, I’m just not going to drop that much on a book and some of the excitement has then worn off by the time the hardback comes out. 
 

I think the AoS side suffers from lack of big name characters for novel series and porting Gotrek over was ok but slightly flawed. I’m not sure what to suggest there as for me the kore interesting perspectives e.g from a normal human/free guild are a bit hobbled by the faction having been more or less abandoned in the game. I like to be inspired to pick up some figures after my reading and get painting! 

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On 1/18/2020 at 11:44 PM, Malios said:

Does the BL sales figures also include third parties such as Audible or Amazon? Or just direct sales from the website?

Because I see the appeal in Audible: its monthly subscription is cheaper then buying direct from BL website.

I'm late to this discussion but those are my thoughts exactly. 

I haven't bought a black library book for probably over a year since I've had an Audible subscription. 
Admittedly my reading time has been minimal, so that's where audio books while driving have been a great help.  
The last thing I read in a physical format was ADB's Night Lords trilogy and a half finished Fear to Tread (HH series). Since then, I've listened to about 8 or 9 HH audio books and I'm almost up to date with them. I think I'm about 4-5 away from being current.  
After that, I'll start jumping into AOS stuff I think. Keen to catch up with Gotrek.  

But in general, Black Library is expensive. They still price their stuff like every book is a large, hard cover collectors edition. And while that has it's place, it's not the majority of the market. The fact that some of their books only come out in the cheaper soft cover versions months later certainly doesn't help.  
It's like those dual box limited characters all over again. 

At the end of the day.... why would I pay $20+ for a physical book, when I can have someone read it to me for $16? 

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It’s an interesting problem with black library. It is all essential tie in fiction and the is very little in that field that could be considered genuinely excellent. Part of the problem is the limitations put on writers. From what I understand a writer is usually given about 3 months to write a novel. Even fantasy writers who we would consider to be fairly prolific write about one book a year. I am sure that there is a stipulation in each brief that there must be a certain amount of fighting. I have certainly never read a warhammmer novel that didn’t have any fighting in it. 

That said, there are plenty of AOS books that I found very enjoyable. Soul wars was a big surprise as it took its time to build tension before the fighting started. While there’s plenty of talk about City of Secrets the follow up, Callis and Toll:The Silver shard is a much better book. I also strongly recommend anything written by Evan Dicken. He has a really interesting take on the mortal realms. I hope he is given the chance to do a full novel soon. 

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On 1/18/2020 at 12:44 PM, Malios said:

Does the BL sales figures also include third parties such as Audible or Amazon? Or just direct sales from the website?

Because I see the appeal in Audible: its monthly subscription is cheaper then buying direct from BL website.

7 hours ago, Inquisitorsz said:

I'm late to this discussion but those are my thoughts exactly. 

Yes it includes third parties - sort of.  The value is distributor sales.  This means it will include the amount of stock sold (at trade price) to the likes of Amazon and other publishers.  We don't know how the GW store/BL relationship works, it's feasible GW stores have a trade price too, but equally possible that a sale through GW just goes straight into distributor sales at full RRP.

Audible is dealt with on a royalty basis I believe, but I'd imagine it falls into the same figure.

 

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On 1/20/2020 at 2:59 AM, Chikout said:

It’s an interesting problem with black library. It is all essential tie in fiction and the is very little in that field that could be considered genuinely excellent. Part of the problem is the limitations put on writers. From what I understand a writer is usually given about 3 months to write a novel. Even fantasy writers who we would consider to be fairly prolific write about one book a year. I am sure that there is a stipulation in each brief that there must be a certain amount of fighting. I have certainly never read a warhammmer novel that didn’t have any fighting in it. 

That said, there are plenty of AOS books that I found very enjoyable. Soul wars was a big surprise as it took its time to build tension before the fighting started. While there’s plenty of talk about City of Secrets the follow up, Callis and Toll:The Silver shard is a much better book. I also strongly recommend anything written by Evan Dicken. He has a really interesting take on the mortal realms. I hope he is given the chance to do a full novel soon. 

I agree - I think the ingredients are all there, I just think the management of BL need to decide on what they want to achieve.

There are fundamental problems within BL that stop it from being successful. Publishing fiction is very different to selling games and the models and rules we use with them. The editing and house style is poor and turgid, but only if you compare it to quality genre fiction published by other houses.

As fan fiction, or tie-in fiction it's fair to middling; it does a job. It will appeal only to the game players, but not all AoS players. I've admitted before I struggle to get through BL books; it's like eating week-old meat-loaf: first bites are interesting enough but then...

And it's not like I wont persevere either - it's why I'm adding my two pence here following another 'go' at one of the newest books (alas after a few pages I had to put it down again; page turners they are not!).

That's not to say they couldn't be good  even great. They have talented writers willing to work with BL, just get in experienced editors, and copy editors who are not just fans and who are not precious about the content, and edit the heck out of the books. 

You gotta kill your darlings to make good works. And GW have plenty of experience in that department, so that should come natural to them 😜

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Thinking on it one thing that would make BL far more accessible to multiple readers would be a series or two that are more descriptive and set the scene better. Many of the stories rely on you having the GW webstore open just to glance at the half a line or two of text and the visual image of a mode to understand what it is within the setting. Whilst the story itself often runs on you being assumed to know what it is. 

This means that for current fans its easier to understand what's happening, but for a novice its a very hard thing to pick up. I think BL could increase their readerbase considerably and move outside of the niche of fans of the game, by having authors spend a bit more time world building within the stories. 

Don't just say it, show and describe it. 

 

They wouldn't have to do it for every story, but to do with a core of stories would be great. Gotrek type stories are good for this - a series that allows itself to follow and focus on multiple different groups and races. 

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I think at least part of it is that they've been slightly hostile towards consumers. I remember a few times (Spears of the Emperor at least) where I wanted to buy a book but I didn't have a realistic option to. I did pick up spears at the end of the day and it's a good book but there's probably other books that I haven't picked up because GW just doesn't make it easy for me to buy them.

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On 1/17/2020 at 4:28 AM, HollowHills said:

....

The court of the blind king took a possibly really cool concept and did nothing with it. Instead of traumatised elves doomed to survive by destroying the very life force of others we got generic fantasy snooty court drama. 

...

 

I just stumbled on this thread, and I totally agree with that. I'm a High Elf fan, and really liked what GW did in the setting with High Elves (and also Wood Elves). I also think the concept of the Idoneth is great. 

But if you read the novels, even the quite good ones like the Tyrion and Teclis books, they never do anything much with all the really cool concepts they have. 

Of course in the book, the author states how much Elves are alien to humans and how differently they act from humans, but the actual actions shown in the books are nothing like that. There is nothing alien at all about them, nothing mysterious or genuine different or interesting. 

I still quite liked the Tyrion and Teclis books, because the characters are pretty good, and there is quite some humor in them. But you could easily find better written fantasy books, if you are interested in such things. Even for someone who likes the HE. I couldn't really recommend these books to anyone who is not a Teclis or Tyrion fan or something close to that. I've read a few other BL books, but generally they are just not that good. If you like a faction or character, then they are fine for what they are, but they usually don't offer much for a more broader readership. 

So, I basically would never pick up a book about Stormcast Eternals, because I'm not interested in them in the first place, and doubt they are interesting enough for the stories/characters as such to pay something for them. Basically so far what interests me in the setting and the various factions can be satisfied with reading the battletomes and watching stuff on YouTube etc. 

That said, I'll have a look into a Lumineth book again, if they publish one and see if I like that. 

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Allow me to put my two cents in… My perspective comes from the point of a person who was reading BL for quite a long time (my first book was Space Marine by Ian Watson back in 90’s) and who has an extensive collection of entire HH series. I think BL in general is doing better in 40k than Fantasy. Occasionally one can stumble on a rare gem like Mike Lee’s Nagash trilogy (absolutely recommend this book to any TK or Death faction player), but overall the level of fantasy writing is quite poor. I would not put this totally on the authors though. I believe it is hard to write a book within the set parameters of company’s IP. Unfamiliarity of many authors with the game and extensive knowledge of back ground plays a big role in the quality of books. This last point is what makes ADB such a perfect writer for BL. Not only he is quite talented, but he also knows what he is writing about. That being said, even his books can be ruined by poorly chosen narrator (do not ever buy Emperor Spears audio version and just read the actual book).

My second point is the price. I agree with above mentioned statement that $40 for a book is a bit pricey. Especially considering that it has rather limited appeal.     

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I imagine it's mostly down to a budget thing, or just the usual issues around writing for an IP. Most books for most IPs are known to be bad and that's because they don't pay that great and they have tight deadlines. If you let a BL writer have years to develop a series you'd probably get something really good- I don't doubt many of the writers could make something better with more time. Think of your favourite series- the writers had ages for the first book and usually reasonable time for subsequent books. Not the case with BL and it's not even BL's fault really- they know they won't sell hundreds of thousands of these so they can't afford long writing times. 

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