Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Alister McGrath on C S Lewis

I wanted to write a detached, cool-headed evaluation of this book and even had thought of some suitably ironic ways of describing it: 'ostrich prose', for example (covering a lot of ground with great enthusiasm but never quite taking off). 

Unfortunately, I can't do it. I shamelessly and unapologetically absolutely loved this book. I have to confess some shared interests. Alister McGrath is a professor at my old college. He's a scientist and atheist who turned to Christ. In some of his other writings, he has discovered the loveable pinata-like qualities of Professor Dawkins. So I was predisposed to like this book and therefore quite determined not to.

I don't know if it's a masterpiece or not but I found it an entirely satisfying retelling and re-evaluation of the man that I will treasure for a long time. They even got A N Wilson, big-beast among Lewis biographers and newly -returned-to-the-faith-Christian, to say something mildly pleasant about McGrath's work. So, perhaps, it must be good. It's not just me. Generally I prefer reading Lewis to reading books about Lewis but this is the business.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

The publishing business

2013 figures in the Bookseller describe an unusual industry. They are for print titles, hardback and softback for the UK. I've rounded them.

Total sales appryearox £1.5 billion

Total titles sold (ie the number of new books now on the nation's bookshelves) approx 200m.


If Amazon offers around 6m books for sale, the mean sales of any single title in a year is around 30.

If a typical author has three books on the market, a total guess, mean total sales are likely to be 90/year

If each book sells for approx £7, the mean annual income of the average author is of the order of £60.

Anecdotally: you are about as likely to earn a living from writing books as you are to play on the professional tennis circuit.