I have to admit to being a little bit nervous. You enter the process of producing a second edition full of hopes. Second editions may seem like an easy way to extend the life of a successful book, but it is a far from certain business. I have had second editions which have extended the life of a book by several more years. One of my second editions has sold a good number of copies, by my standards! I have also experienced a second edition that falls off the radar in terms of sales and sells fewer new copies than the previous version sells as second hand books.
The reasons why? Honestly, I don’t know but I can point to a couple of contributory factors.
Firstly, for most professional books nowadays the major channel to market is Amazon. Sure bookshops may hold a few copies, but bookshops are stocking fewer books and there are fewer bookshops. The professional section in most bookshops varies from small to non-existent. What’s left is predominantly Amazon. Selling on Amazon depends on many things, but a key contributory factor are the number of reviews a book has. Reviews build up over time, and these do not necessarily get transitioned to the second edition of the book. When an old edition has dozens of good reviews, and a new edition has none, sales can plummet.
Secondly, there are the tradition issues like book covers. One of my book covers had a colourful cover but was refreshed in the second edition with a largely white cover. I thought it looked great, but I found out later from the published that they had always struggled with books with white covers. The second edition of the book bombed. It’s always said you should not judge a book by its cover. We all agree with this. And yet, in truth most of us do judge books by their covers!
I suppose the failure of a second edition may also be the simple fact that the market may be saturated.
I am sure there are a whole range of other factors – which if anyone knows I’d be interested to hear. I have my fingers crossed for the second edition of Project Management Step-by-Step. I believe it is an improved book, and I have had several people review, praise and endorse the book. But only time will show if the second edition was a good idea.