Friday, 30 November 2012

Official: WHEEL OF TIME has sold lots of books

Tor Books have put up an interesting - if rather hyperbolic - video discussing the Wheel of Time sequence and its impact and influence on the fantasy genre. Obviously as a marketing release from the publisher, it's a bit of a fluff piece (the considerably mixed reception WoT has had in the wider world is not mentioned), but it does feature some interesting new info on the sales figures of the series.



Yup, the oft-quoted figure of 44 million sales, it transpires, refers to the United States and Canada alone, not a worldwide figure. This is surprising news and since it comes straight from the horse's mouth (in this case Tom Doherty's, the head of Tor Books), must be taken as fact. Given the normal ratio of North American sales to the rest of the world is about half of the total sales, that should put worldwide sales of Wheel of Time in the region of 80-90 million. Which is a lot, and considerably more than previously thought.

There's some interesting stuff in the rest of the video (which includes soundbites from Brandon Sanderson and Pat Rothfuss), although I think we can take the claim that 'lots happens on every single page' as a slight exaggeration of the amount of incident in the late-middle volumes of the series.

For comparison's sake, worldwide sales of A Song of Ice and Fire are closing rapidly on 20 million (of considerably fewer books) worldwide, whilst Terry Pratchett's Discworld series (which has considerably more) recently passed 70 million.

17 comments:

Mandorallen said...

A fluff piece absolutely, not inaccurate most of the time though. Books nine and 10 had slow parts but honestly they should have been expected, every series has a "middle" book or books and they were setting up the ending. I found a lot to enjoy in them despite being slow a lot of the time, particularly in Mat's ark.

LV said...

Even for a publicity stunt, this video is ridiculous. "The Wheel of Time" has had no significant, let alone positive literary influence whatsoever on the genre. The blurb for Martin's "A Game of Thrones" might be the best Jordan has done for fantasy literature. In any case, his books are trite, convoluted, and as badly written as his characters are conceived. Why anyone with a taste for the genre would actually appreciate them (except for teenager nostalgia) is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

You should do an updated post on fantasy sales so we can all see how the landscape has changed.

Anonymous said...

I think we can let a bit of hyperbole pass just this once, after all we're about to get the closing volume of a 15 volume opus, 20-odd years on the making. I booked January 8th off work yesterday to read it, and I'm 39 years old for Chissakes.

Anonymous said...

I thought books 1-7 were all good or great, 8-9 were a big step down, 10 was awful, but 11-13 were good to great. I can’t speak for anyone else, but 10 good to great books in a 13 book series (so far) is really, really impressive.

While other authors has risen in the last 10 years, Jordan was the king of fantasy in the 90s.

Anonymous said...

"Even for a publicity stunt, this video is ridiculous. "The Wheel of Time" has had no significant, let alone positive literary influence whatsoever on the genre. "

Its the biggest fantasy seller after LOTR and Harry Potter, you really think its without influence?
You should allso consider its significance in the era of Fantasy when it became popular.

Thaxll said...

"Even for a publicity stunt, this video is ridiculous. "The Wheel of Time" has had no significant, let alone positive literary influence whatsoever on the genre. The blurb for Martin's "A Game of Thrones" might be the best Jordan has done for fantasy literature. In any case, his books are trite, convoluted, and as badly written as his characters are conceived. Why anyone with a taste for the genre would actually appreciate them (except for teenager nostalgia) is beyond me."

Talk about hyperbole ...

Always fun when some enlightened spirit tries to make a point with big sweeping arguments that only manage to demonstrate how ignorant he is.

Adam Whitehead said...

"You should do an updated post on fantasy sales so we can all see how the landscape has changed."

I've started several such posts, but whilst new figures are available in some instances, many official figures remain where they were when I did the original post several years ago. I think I need more info to do a proper, updated post.

LV said...

Jordan's novels are nothing more than one of the many examples of fantasy literature that continue to make the genre look like a turd in the eyes of lettered outsiders. If someone with a literary background were given these books as examples of fantasy's virtues and would subsequently come to the conclusion that the genre is a derivative, childish, kitschy and amateurishly written pile of trash, no one could blame her for being unfair.
Among the epigones of Tolkien and better writers of fantasy, Jordan occupies a place right at the side of hacks like Goodkind: A writer who's sole accomplishment it was to bring new readers into the genre - after which they hopefully developed a decent standard of taste and moved on other, actually worthwhile authors.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand people who glorify Tolkien and trash Jordan, while talking about contribution to Fantasy. They are very much comparable. You just have to place them in the proper "era" of Fantasy.
And yes, putting Fantasy on the map as it were is no small thing; without a decent pool of readers a genre can't really thrive, can it. When I was first reading Jordan, there were only a handful decent Fantasy authors' books on the shelves in bookstores. Now, in no small measure thanks to Jordan, Tolkien, Martin, even Rowling, etc. the bookshelves are bursting with Fantasy books. I would've loved if this were the case 20 years ago.
In the end though, there's no accounting for taste. I'm guessing most of you know someone who enjoyed the Twilight series.. :)

Anonymous said...

So LV... Anyone who likes WoT must - of necessity - be childish, and have a bad taste in literature?... Nice.

LRK

Anonymous said...

LV: While I wouldnt go that far, I will say that MALAZAN is a fantasy series MUCH BETTER deserving of this kind of publicity than WOT is.

LV said...

No. As I wrote in my first comment, I can understand readers looking forward to Sanderson's conclusion for reasons of nostalgia.
But aside from that and considering Jordan's writing, his characters, his plots, his politics (especially his depiction of women): Anyone familiar with the genre in general and its developement since Tolkien in particular, who actually thinks that "The Wheel of Time" is a literary achievement, let alone a highlight of fantasy, should go sit in the corner and reflect on his error.

And - of course - Tolkien wasn't some kind of god. There are many questionable depictions and implications in his works. But then he was a child of the 19th century as well as a lettered scholar and decent craftsman. Jordan was born in 1948 (!) - and a godawful writer. He has no excuse.

Anonymous said...

Why are Malazan fans in particular so strident in their opinions about how great their pet series is, and want to trash other series in comparison? (Yes, I'm looking at YOU "LV"..)

You've found a series you're clearly delighted with - great, well done. In fact, I started reading GotM a few days ago, and I'm heartily enjoying it.

As of yet, I feel no particular urge to troll postings about other series I do not particularly care for and vent my pompous spleen. When can I expect this to occur - around Toll the Hounds maybe?

LV said...

Excuse me? I am not Malazan fanbox and frankly, I don't know where you got that from...
Sure, Erikson is a decent writer with an impressively megalomaniacal world and story. But to anyone who blindly revers his work, I would point out the many, many flaws of that particular fantasy project...
By the way, I was not "trolling". One simply has to counter the ridiculous claims of hacks like Sanderson and second-rate 'young' fantasy writers like Rothfuss regarding "The Wheel of Time".

hastalavistavista said...

Adam, I enjoyed your excellent WoT book summaries (specially the exceptional summary of the backstory) but the series seems to have ground to a halt with Knife of Dreams. If you were planning to put out summaries of The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight before the publication of AMoL then you are running a bit short on time ....

Adam Whitehead said...

Not going to happen now. I've been working six-day weeks for the last month and a half and haven't had the time to do it (putting together one summary takes about 8-9 hours of work).

They will get done eventually, for those who are waiting for the paperback or just for reference purposes. But by next week is impossible.