No, Traditional Publishing Isn’t Dead

and other good news for writers

Michelle Richmond
The Caffeinated Writer


Galignani bookstore, Paris, photo by Michelle Richmond

It’s popular these days to proclaim that traditional publishing is dead. It’s also popular to bash publishers. I’d like to offer some hope to those who still want to go the traditional publishing route.

For starters, I recommend Yes, People Really Do Buy Books, by Lincoln Michel on Counter Craft. Michel’s post was a response to a highly-circulated Substack post that preposterously claimed “No One Buys Books” and reiterated the repeatedly-debunked but highly clickable idea that most books sell fewer than twelve copies.

Michel explains where that apocalyptic fewer-than-a-dozen figure came from. He also dives into the numbers on how many print books Americans are actually buying each year. According to BookScan data, 767,356,000 print books in the categories of adult nonfiction and fiction, juvenile nonfiction and fiction, and young adult nonfiction and fiction were sold in the US in 2023.

This doesn’t even account for the purchase of ebooks and audiobooks. Anyone who has published a book through the traditional model in past five years has probably noticed that a lot of your sales are ebooks — which means that ignoring those sales drastically skews the numbers in favor of the “no one buys books” theory.

One thing I can say is…