Jump to content

Welcome to The Bolter and Chainsword
Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more. If you already have an account, login here - otherwise create an account for free today!
Photo

GW Investor Report- Black Library Sales Down


  • Please log in to reply
62 replies to this topic

#1
caladancid

caladancid

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 711 posts
https://investor.gam...year-report.pdf

This is being discussed in the news sub forum also, but I figured it was worth reposting here as it seems like BL is the one part of GW declining in sales. All this is of course assuming I am reading the report correctly.

It looks like a 7-9 percent drop? That’s my quick math.

#2
Lord Marshal

Lord Marshal

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 1,704 posts
  • Location:Spinward Front
  • Faction: Imperial Guard
Only so much Bolter Porn you can ingest, I suppose.
  • Shinros likes this
gallery_30308_9518_1272.jpggallery_30308_9518_1551.pngsml_gallery_48988_16308_9366.png

#3
Shinros

Shinros

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 274 posts
  • Location:The Star Dragon
  • Faction: Genestealer cults

Only so much Bolter Porn you can ingest, I suppose.

Bingo, they need to write better books. We need more books like Dark Harvest and Requiem Infernal. More substance, less bolter porn I rarely ever read Space Marine books now, tired of them overall. 


  • Lord Marshal and Biscuittzz like this

#4
Biscuittzz

Biscuittzz

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 911 posts
  • Faction: Raven Guard/Grey Knights

I think they really missed a beat in not commissioning a HH style series to run alongside 8th edition starting off with Dark Imperium. Seems like they want the PA and codexes to drive the storyline rather than novels but even then the plot advancements in PA are laughable. They've become so beholden to selling models that they just can't risk making any drastic storyline changes.


  • Felix Antipodes, Sandlemad, Noserenda and 5 others like this

#5
Shinros

Shinros

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 274 posts
  • Location:The Star Dragon
  • Faction: Genestealer cults

I think they really missed a beat in not commissioning a HH style series to run alongside 8th edition starting off with Dark Imperium. Seems like they want the PA and codexes to drive the storyline rather than novels but even then the plot advancements in PA are laughable. They've become so beholden to selling models that they just can't risk making any drastic storyline changes.

That is also another problem I feel as well, I'm sorry the supplement stories suck. The ONLY time I enjoyed reading a campaign book recently was Vigilus defiance. What they did to Eldar in PA1 was travesty and I am a Slaanesh fan.  



#6
theSpirea

theSpirea

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 174 posts

I'm not surprised at all. BL marketing is beyond terrible; and not just marketing.

 

  • They don't properly announce new titles. Just remember what happened with the Solar War LE: and they did it again just last Saturday with Sons of Selenar LE. Not as many people were angry but there were still plenty of angry rants on forums/FB groups.
  • Their Coming Soon section is a joke, there's no need to even comment on that part.
  • Black Library website needs an overhaul, desperately. It absolutely doesn't help newcomers to pick a book, doesn't suggest reading order, etc. 
  • Majority of the books are not available: unless the book was published recently, only ebooks are available. Lots of people don't read ebooks. Older books are only available as Omnibuses (paperback or ebook). Again, lots of people don't like omnibuses and are often put off by the size of the book.
  • BL Instagram - they can't even regularly post news/new releases. 16 year old girl would do a better job
  • Warhammer Horror imprint - they've published already quite a few books, however, they again failed to promote it.
  • Sales: if you're okay with ebooks, you can get them super cheap via Amazon, etc. Audiobooks people usually get via Audible (and BL gets less % if the don't sell directly)

It all comes down to terrible management.

 

edit: people mentioned Requiem Infernal and Dark Harvest. Writing a good book is not going to help if they don't promote it and don't get the word out. Requiem Infernal hardback took forever to sell out. They need to attract new people to the setting. They are running the business as a supplement to GW/models.


Edited by theSpirea, 15 January 2020 - 11:50 PM.

  • Prot, Felix Antipodes, Sandlemad and 13 others like this

#7
Lucerne

Lucerne

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 1,048 posts

Quality control is a real problem with the Siege novels too- so far it's had a lot of the problems of the Heresy, only magnified with the whole thing degenerating into a poorly plotted soap opera.

 

They'd benefit a lot from forward planning for the "main plot points" and assigning them to some of their top talent, with the less adept writers given the "side stories" disconnected from the core novels- this way we avoid the erratic plotlines of the Beast series or the painful slog/soap opera of the Heresy proper.


  • Phoebus, Scribe, Shinros and 1 other like this

https://twitter.com/...318432949927938

 

"The Alpha Legion has- in spirit if not in body- remained much the same since its creation."

 


#8
cheywood

cheywood

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 485 posts
Is this reflective of a serious decline or simply a drop compared to the past 12 months?
  • aa.logan and DarkChaplain like this

#9
Shinros

Shinros

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 274 posts
  • Location:The Star Dragon
  • Faction: Genestealer cults

I'm not surprised at all. BL marketing is beyond terrible; and not just marketing.

 

  • They don't properly announce new titles. Just remember what happened with the Solar War LE: and they did it again just last Saturday with Sons of Selenar LE. Not as many people were angry but there were still plenty of angry rants on forums/FB groups.
  • Their Coming Soon section is a joke, there's no need to even comment on that part.
  • Black Library website needs an overhaul, desperately. It absolutely doesn't help newcomers to pick a book, doesn't suggest reading order, etc. 
  • Majority of the books are not available: unless the book was published recently, only ebooks are available. Lots of people don't read ebooks. Older books are only available as Omnibuses (paperback or ebook). Again, lots of people don't like omnibuses and are often put off by the size of the book.
  • BL Instagram - they can't even regularly post news/new releases. 16 year old girl would do a better job
  • Warhammer Horror imprint - they've published already quite a few books, however, they again failed to promote it.
  • Sales: if you're okay with ebooks, you can get them super cheap via Amazon, etc. Audiobooks people usually get via Audible (and BL gets less % if the don't sell directly)

It all comes down to terrible management.

 

edit: people mentioned Requiem Infernal and Dark Harvest. Writing a good book is not going to help if they don't promote it and don't get the word out. Requiem Infernal hardback took forever to sell out. They need to attract new people to the setting. They are running the business as a supplement to GW/models.

That's another thing as well. It's a TRAVESTY that they don't advertise properly, just Imagine if Dark Harvest and Requiem Infernal was given a proper advertising push? Or any of the Dark Coil novels? 

 

There is a reason why the most popular Black Library series is Eisenhorn and Gaunts Ghosts. They REALLY need to advertise their heavy hitting books, people who have no idea about 40k or AOS adore both Dark Harvest and Reqiuem, fans who read it love it as well. 


Edited by Shinros, 16 January 2020 - 12:07 AM.

  • Lucerne likes this

#10
b1soul

b1soul

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 5,244 posts
Yeah, I'd say poor marketing absolutely shoots BL in the foot

Why no proper coming soon section...what the actual fudge???

Why no strongly advertised BL series to accompany 8th edition? Instead they just did this through Gathering Storm, jumped the timeline to Dark Imperium, then backtracked to early Indomitus. It's a mess.
  • Shinros likes this

#11
Shinros

Shinros

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 274 posts
  • Location:The Star Dragon
  • Faction: Genestealer cults

Yeah, I'd say poor marketing absolutely shoots BL in the foot

Why no proper coming soon section...what the actual fudge???

Why no strongly advertised BL series to accompany 8th edition? Instead they just did this through Gathering Storm, jumped the timeline to Dark Imperium, then backtracked to early Indomitus. It's a mess.

Yeah the coming soon section just makes me inwardly sigh and I actually thought for 8th they were going to push forward, past Dark Imperium or on the outset start an Indomitus crusade series. 



#12
Marshal Rohr

Marshal Rohr

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 17,647 posts
  • Location:Georgia
  • Faction: 7th Terran Regiment
I don’t understand how a ‘Coming Soon’ section would really help with Sales. I don’t know anything about the publishing industry though.
  • Xisor likes this

Your opinion is important, and someone posting here probably does care what you think. You should go tell them. Remember that it really hurts to come up with an idea you care about and have no one else care. Go care about something and tell them what you think. Now. Think of what it would have meant to you when you were young.

 

+++The Iterators Guild+++

A Group for Lore Minded Hobbyists and World Building Projects

 


#13
Commander Dawnstar

Commander Dawnstar

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 1,145 posts
  • Location:Newcastle, United Kingdom
  • Faction: Ksi'm'yen.

Obviously I can't speak to how much this would actually help their bottom line, but it sure would be nice to have some new xenos-centric books so that portion of the audience actually has something to go to the Black Library for beyond the occasional short story.

 

As far as I can tell the last full novel with xenos protagonists was Rise of the Ynnari: Wild Rider, and that was released in November 2018.


  • Knockagh, Kelborn and Nemesor Tyriks like this

gallery_48988_15465_42927.pnggallery_48988_15465_1202.pnggallery_48988_15465_21744.png


#14
DarkChaplain

DarkChaplain

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 2,462 posts
  • Location:Germany

It's a combination of poor marketing on top of it being a relatively low key year overall, I'd argue. Yes, there were two Siege novels on general release, and The Buried Dagger before them, but they didn't really have much in the way of big blockbuster sellers. Their output was generally lower, it feels like, with them investing more in specialized content.

 

Between the return of artbooks, really expensive (outside of Audible) 4-CD audio drama boxed sets, the Warhammer Horror imprint, Necromunda, Blackstone Fortress stuff.... 2019 was also a year of comparatively excessive amounts of reprints and updating the back catalog, especially when it comes to audio and omnibus releases.

 

A couple of the most notable releases this past year have also been pretty divisive, the stuff they've marketed the most wasn't necessarily what people were looking for, and a couple of their most reliably good authors haven't had much to offer throughout 2019. Josh Reynolds took a bit of a hiatus from writing BL tie-in fiction after Apocalypse (though thankfully Dark Harvest and Darkly Dreaming are in the running for good stuff the past few months), Dan had a ton of re-releases in audio and print but Anarch was surprisingly low key. French didn't get the third Horusian Wars novel out, instead we only got an anthology with mostly old stuff, Josh's Fabius Bile isn't coming til later this year at best, still no Penitent, and the Horus Heresy has slowed down to a crawl as far as ancillary stories went, at least until the advent season. Space Marine Conquests stopped after Apocalypse, which wasn't really marketed, and a couple of novel releases were very unconventional, like Rites of Passage or Terminal Overkill. Output of original content was extremely limited compared to the past few years.

 

Still, at the end of the day, beyond the obviously mishandled stuff like writing deadlines on Josh's Apocalypse, or the limited edition Siege situation, or the terrible website that's still not up to par with basically any other store in the 2010s, I'd argue that a slower paced 2019 isn't necessarily a bad thing.

 

A couple of years back, BL kept rolling bank, leading to a lot of investments and expansion into audio. What BL has done in 2019, but also to a degree in 2018, was revitalize some of their older properties, like Ciaphas Cain, the Sabbat Worlds, Gotrek & Felix, Necromunda, Last Chancers, but also provided ways for newer folks to get the classics again, by way of keeping Omnibuses more reliably in print, and producing audiobooks of old content. These aren't really going to sell like crazy, because their established fanbase will likely have read the greatest hits already anyway, but they're important to solidify their catalog for the future.

 

On top of that, they've been making efforts to approach new angles to their ranges through Horror, and 2020s Crime imprints. Considering Crime was only recently announced, I'd say that Horror has so far been a success to them. It's a risky project, though, due to the very minor branding on the books, and the content being a bit out of the ordinary for BL as a whole. They're diversifying their approach, and I like that a lot, but that was always going to come with risks, especially when you have to schedule authors for projects that don't contribute to the mainline as a result. Besides that, their editing staff was probably rather busy with newcomers and stuff like Inferno!

 

To me, it looks like BL is playing it smart in many ways. They appear more forward thinking right now than a few years back, where they'd scrap series and labels on a whim. The real question is whether they can grow their 2019 experiments to the point of greater success and reach even the folks who were reluctant to, say, read something labeled Warhammer Horror. If they've seen the critical acclaim for, say, Reqiuem Infernal, they'll also have to amp up marketing of that kind of content in the future. But at the end of the day, that level of drop in performance for 2019 does not look bad at all when you consider just how slow the year was for them overall.


  • aa.logan, Nineswords, cheywood and 3 others like this

#15
Marshal Rohr

Marshal Rohr

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 17,647 posts
  • Location:Georgia
  • Faction: 7th Terran Regiment
I don’t know how feasible it would be, but BL doing more books like the Sabbat Worlds sourcebook would be something I’d buy every entry in the series. Cross sections and Atlases like the old Star Wars stuff would probably sell like hot cakes too. BL should really step off the gas in fiction and move into world building products.
  • aa.logan likes this

Your opinion is important, and someone posting here probably does care what you think. You should go tell them. Remember that it really hurts to come up with an idea you care about and have no one else care. Go care about something and tell them what you think. Now. Think of what it would have meant to you when you were young.

 

+++The Iterators Guild+++

A Group for Lore Minded Hobbyists and World Building Projects

 


#16
MegaVolt87

MegaVolt87

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 2,424 posts
  • Faction: Iron Warriors

Cross post-

 

http://www.bolterand...ears/?p=5424286

 

BL not doing well is fine, its a good intro gateway to the hobby. Even if it was in the red it would still be ok because you gotta spend money to make money. 


gallery_154982_15362_23624.jpg

My Iron Warriors Project   Guns for the guns god!, Bullets for the Brass throne!


#17
DarkChaplain

DarkChaplain

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 2,462 posts
  • Location:Germany

Looking over the 2018 list, man, that year was stacked. It had SIX Horus Heresy books alone. 2019 had 3, with 2500 copy limited editions.

2018 also had 5 Primarchs novels, 4 if we exclude Corax, which had its general release in February. 2019 had the general release of Corax, Angron and Curze.

 

Besides the Heresy, 2018 had a Ciaphas Cain novel, an Alpha Legion novel, Outer Dark by Robbie MacNiven, which was rather hotly anticipated, The Lords of Silence, Plague War (the third novel in the Dark Imperium trilogy did not happen in 2019, possibly 2020), Fehervari's Cult of the Spiral Dawn, The Magos, Incarnation, The Voice of Mars (third Iron Hands novel did not happen in 2019 either), Wild Rider (third Ynnari novel missing too... see the pattern?), heck, they didn't even follow up Swallow's Corsair audio series with a second part all of 2019 - at this point it's been two years since the pilot!

Space Marine Conquests had 3 books in 2018, 2019 only had Apocalypse. Space Wolves had two books including SMC and Lukas the Trickster.

 

BL's left a lot of series, trilogies and as a result also fans hanging in 2019, so it's no surprise that sales are down a tad.


  • aa.logan and Kelborn like this

#18
theSpirea

theSpirea

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 174 posts

While it is true there weren't that many heavy-hitting releases in 2019, it still falls down to marketing issues. I have plenty of friends who read thriller/horror mainly and they haven't heard of WHH and they read close to 100 books a year, they try to look up new books, go to bookstores, etc. The first two books in Horror came out in April and I haven't seen it being advertised anywhere outside of BL yet. I introduced them to WHH and they are slowly getting into it (none of them was impressed with the first two books, I had to convince them to stick with it).

 

It's nice they are diversifying their catalog but they also need to properly inform people. If I wasn't checking multiple sources couple times a month I would have missed quite a few releases. It's clear they are trying to improve things, and I believe they are on the right track. However, they can do better; they have the material and the writers to do so.

 

It feels like they either don't have enough experience in publishing (outside of publishing fluff for bunch of nerds) or they lack resources. Apocalypse Special Edition was printed in the UK, so it looks they were trying to move the printing there. They didn't promote it enough (at all), they decided to go with Special Edition for 5th book in a series that gets only paperbacks/ebooks - this can also hurt sales.

 

I'm sure the numbers will look better from now on. Horror books are slowly getting out, soon we will have Crime ones, and their audiobooks on Audible are becoming more and more popular.


  • Shinros likes this

#19
mc warhammer

mc warhammer

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 1,595 posts
haven't had a chance to read up on it yet, but has there been a slump industry wide as well? or in retail in general? context is always important

if that was taken into account in the PDF, ignore me
  • aa.logan likes this

It always amused me that the GW Mail Order ‘Trolls’ as we (starting with me) had always styled ourselves insisted as being rebranded ‘Space Marines’. Why anyone would want to be associated with semi-lobotomized, hypnotically indoctrinated slave-soldiers in thrall to an uncaring (and possibly non-existent) god I couldn’t imagine. - Rick Priestley

 2019

#20
caladancid

caladancid

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 711 posts

I'm not surprised at all. BL marketing is beyond terrible; and not just marketing.

  • They don't properly announce new titles. Just remember what happened with the Solar War LE: and they did it again just last Saturday with Sons of Selenar LE. Not as many people were angry but there were still plenty of angry rants on forums/FB groups.
  • Their Coming Soon section is a joke, there's no need to even comment on that part.
  • Black Library website needs an overhaul, desperately. It absolutely doesn't help newcomers to pick a book, doesn't suggest reading order, etc.
  • Majority of the books are not available: unless the book was published recently, only ebooks are available. Lots of people don't read ebooks. Older books are only available as Omnibuses (paperback or ebook). Again, lots of people don't like omnibuses and are often put off by the size of the book.
  • BL Instagram - they can't even regularly post news/new releases. 16 year old girl would do a better job
  • Warhammer Horror imprint - they've published already quite a few books, however, they again failed to promote it.
  • Sales: if you're okay with ebooks, you can get them super cheap via Amazon, etc. Audiobooks people usually get via Audible (and BL gets less % if the don't sell directly)
It all comes down to terrible management.

edit: people mentioned Requiem Infernal and Dark Harvest. Writing a good book is not going to help if they don't promote it and don't get the word out. Requiem Infernal hardback took forever to sell out. They need to attract new people to the setting. They are running the business as a supplement to GW/models.

Most of this I 100 percent agree with.

But those ebooks sales you talk about don’t happen on the US amazon store. At all. So that’s another weird choice.

And they have a lot of trouble getting new releases out on ebook or hard copy on Amazon. Just look at the new Kharadron Overlords release. The new CL Werner book came out, I guess. But you can’t buy the ebook or hardcover on Amazon. That probably doesn’t help sales.

#21
theSpirea

theSpirea

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 174 posts
I don't know why but usually hardcovers don't go to general bookstores (Siege of Terra, Primarchs, and WHH hardcovers being an exception).

#22
MegaVolt87

MegaVolt87

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 2,424 posts
  • Faction: Iron Warriors

I don't know why but usually hardcovers don't go to general bookstores (Siege of Terra, Primarchs, and WHH hardcovers being an exception).

 

Gotta keep some public customer book trade in house man, LE and hard covers looks to be how to do it. 


gallery_154982_15362_23624.jpg

My Iron Warriors Project   Guns for the guns god!, Bullets for the Brass throne!


#23
StrangerOrders

StrangerOrders

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 530 posts
  • Faction: SW, Craftworld, EC and TSons

I will toss in a quick observation on Space Marine books. 

 

Alot of the better (and better selling) Astartes books dwell more on chapter/legion culture, expanding on the oddity and grand scale of the Astartes and generally making the setting feel larger than life. 

 

BL however has an almost obsessive compulsion to make Space Marine books include Bolter Porn where it isnt needed or does not add anything to the story (Palatine Phoenix being one of my favorite examples of needless bolter porn).

 

The Siege of Terra books have actively been dumbing down or stripping Legions of interesting stories for a relentless slurry of bolter porn. Not even especially good bolter porn since they existing books are a weird mix of frantic pacing (Solar War) and slower than an ill snail (L&tD).

 

Not saying that more Xenos books would not help but BL seems to be favoring the weaker parts of Space Marine books and I don't think that helps. 


  • Karthak and Bohemondd’Antioche like this

Have a lovely daybiggrin.png

 

Incidentally, I like to commit the cardinal sin of writing fanfiction: https://forums.space.../#post-41266642


#24
b1soul

b1soul

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 5,244 posts
I think a Coming Soon section would help with book sales the same way preview trailers help with movie ticket sales

I don't see how it would hurt sales and it's not hard to do

#25
Felix Antipodes

Felix Antipodes

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
  • 729 posts
  • Location:Perth, Australia
  • Faction: Fighting Furies
My first thought on reading this thread was on cause and effect; are sales down due to the dwindling number of releases in the last year or are they releasing less due to poor sales?

Have to agree with most of the complaints so far. A good, well maintained, Coming Soon section drives the hype for an upcoming book and also allows you to plan out your future purchases. Things like last weeks release of a LE into the wild only creates bitterness towards the company whether you lucked out and got a copy or not.

Their website desperately needs updating as well. It has got to the stage where I rarely visit it anymore, where in the past I was checking it out a couple of times a day. Time for it to get the same upgrade as Forgeworld at a minimum.

The decision to drop the timeline references with 8th edition hasn't helped BL either. I was indifferent to it at first, but it has really muddied the waters in both the SM Conquests series as well as the campaign books from GW proper like the current PA series, making them confusing to some readers (a common complaint in my group). They need to expand past the first founding Chapters as well IMHO. There are plenty of them in existence already crying out for a good backgrounding novel or, shock, let the author create their own.

On a positive note, the expansion into new genre imprints like horror and crime is something I applaud. The widening of the settings in recent releases (Navigator Houses, Inquisition, Blackstone Fortress) and the return of old favs like Necromunda and Ciaphus Cain is also a positive thing. The deeper you can pull an audience into a setting the more likely they are to stay. I'd love to see one of the authors have a go at a novel set in the Astra Telepathica or the Administratum. And more Imperial Navy stuff. It's been ages. Astra Militarum also seems to have had its day.

The recent influx of new (to BL) authors is also a good thing. Will be interesting to see how many survive to become regular contributors.
  • RolandTHTG, LetsYouDown and Ubiquitous1984 like this




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users