Monday, March 25, 2013

E-Book Bestsellers Show Pro-Con of Digital

Publishers Weekly released the results of a survey in which it queried major publishers on digital sales that took place during the year 2012, regardless of when the book was originally published. Not surprisingly, a lot of backlist books continue to live on as e-books and sell well. Nora Roberts sold 40 different titles with sales of 25,000+ copies (e-book) last year, hitting 3.2 million e-sales. James Patterson has 29 books sell 2.6 million e-copies in 2012.

Overall, some 1,000 books each sold at least 25,000 e=copies in 2012. But this does not reflect all e-book sales. In fact, millions of books that are available as an e-book come from outside the traditional publishers that were surveyed. Then again, not many of them had huge sales.

But what is more interesting to me is that only nine books – four of them being Fifty Shades of Grey – sold 500,000+ e-copies in 2012.That seems low to me, especially given how inexpensive e-books are. It makes me wonder how profitable the industry will be once more sales go digital.

Further examination of the list shows a repetition of authors. Three authors alone account for 88 titles that sold 25,000+ e-books in 2012. The good news is that once you create a good brand, readers remain loyal. The bad news is that few authors have created such a brand demand.

Another cursory observation of the list shows the majority of titles are fiction. Why doesn’t non-fiction translate well digitally?

Whatever one makes of the e-book sales, one thing is clear. There’s no turning back. The trend is  toward more digital sales. It’s just a question of when things will level off and a balance is struck between paper-digital-audio.

The sandbox is big enough to welcome all kinds of books.

Interview With Interfaith Author Ejaz Naqvi, MD

1.                  What do Americans need to understand about Muslims and The Quran? Muslims are an integral part of American society. It would be wrong to think of “American” and Muslims”. Muslims in America ARE Americans. They come from various backgrounds --many are 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, but a large number are non-immigrants (all non-native Americans are strictly speaking immigrants…) including Caucasians, African Americans and to a lesser degree, Hispanics.  The Quran is the Holy Scripture followed by 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. It is considered a literal word of God, through Muhammad, the last prophet in a long chain of prophethood. Muslims believe The Quran has remained unchanged since the time of prophet Muhammad’s death. The Quran teaches a complete code of life, not just the religious aspects.  Islam is considered a way of life rather than a religion per se.

2.                  What inspired you to write The Quran: With or Against the Bible?  No other book in the recent past has generated so much attention as the Holy Quran. The geo-political events in the last decade have provided the fuel to the fire. Religion seems to have once again taken a prominent role in our society, especially in politics. Despite this new-found fame, the scriptures remain arcane to an average person and there are many misconceptions and myths surrounding the teachings of the Scriptures. Most people who have a negative opinion of the Quran have never read it cover to cover. Same goes for the Bible. There is a gulf between those who know and those who have a desire to know. Moreover, much of the available comparative literature tends to lack objectivity and glorifies one scripture, while being critical of the other.  The study of The Quran inspired me to study the Bible and I found striking similarities that remain largely un-realized and I wanted to share my findings with the readers.

3.                  As the head of your local Muslim learning center, what do you suggest can be done to bridge the gap between Americans and their appreciation of Muslims?  It is not about Americans and the Muslims, since Muslims ARE Americans just like the Jews, the Christians and the Hindus are.  The approach to developing understanding between Americans of various faiths is quite simple:  Let’s engage in an ongoing dialogue. I firmly believe in achieving interfaith harmony through education and dialogue, based on open mindedness and civility, without demonizing each other.

4.                  What is the most common misconception about The Quran? Depends on who you talk to  but some of the most common misconceptions around social issues are that The Quran promotes hatred of the Jews and the Christians or calls them infidels or that it promotes killing of any infidel. Theologically, the most common misconception is that “Allah” is the God of the Quran, different than “God of the Bible”.

5.                  Who actually wrote The Quran? The Quran is considered the literal word of God, sent to prophet Muhammad through Archangel Gabriel. Prophet Muhammad in turn ensured that each verse was written down by the appointed scribes.

6.                  What does The Quran teach about interfaith relations? The Quran promotes dialogue with Jews and the Christians -- the people of the book. The command is to do this in “the best manner” and to highlight the similarities.

7.                  What are the largest/most notable similarities between The Quran and the Bible?  A belief in One God, who has many of the same attributes.  He is the only one worthy of worship, the creator, the most kind, the most merciful, all-knowing, Almighty, the master on the day of judgment etc. Submission to the will of god, pleasing, praising and seeking nearness to God are common teachings. Moreover, the stories of prophets like Adam, the floods, the Israelites etc. are very similar, though the Bible typically is more detailed. The Quran shares many of the miracles of Jesus Christ with the Bible -- e.g his birth without a father, giving life to the dead, curing the lepers and the blind etc. The code of conduct involving kindness to each other, justice, truthfulness,  equality, responsibilities of husband and wife, etc. are some of the shared values.

8.                  Does The Quran promote peace and harmony between Muslims and the People of the Book, or does it promote violence?  There are many verses in the Quran praising Christians and Jews. Conversely, there are many verses in the Torah and the Gospel critical of the Jews. If we believe that the scriptures came from God, the Almighty, then we know He would speak the truth without worrying about being politically correct. He does not have to be. Still other verses talk about remaining patient or responding with calm when even the ignorant (referring to the pagans of Mecca) taunted them.

9.                  Does The Quran render women as second-class citizens? No. The highest form of equality is the spiritual equality for people of faith. The Quran very clearly states that men and women are equal in God’s sight and what separates between the two is their level of righteousness or good deeds. It variously commands the followers to treat women well and with kindness and in an equitable manner, even in cases of divorce. It warns men of severe punishment if they falsely accuse a woman. It talks about how God put kindness and love between husband and wife, who were strangers otherwise, thereby emphasizing the pillars around which the relationship between husband and wife is established. The status of women before The Quran was revealed is well documented. They did not even have a status and often the new-born female babies were buried alive as it brought shame to the family! Islam abolished that practice. Prophet Muhammad, through his actions, also showed utmost respect for women. The teachings around the husband and wife relationship is very similar to those in the Bible.

10.              Would you say the view of The Quran, from an American standpoint, is misguided due to our inability to interpret it, or is this more related to issues of propaganda? Both statements are true. There is indeed a knowledge gap. A large majority has never read The Quran and they get their information second-hand through media and/or local preachers. Some of it is indeed pure propaganda and a concerted effort to defame Islam and Muslims. Acts by Terry Jones, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer are designed to create fear of the unknown and are misleading. There was a report published by three scholars in 2011 titled “Fear Inc,” clearly showing that the recent wave of Islamophobia was not accidental but well designed. You can Google the report and read for yourself.

11.              What necessary steps can be taken to gain a better understanding, and become more accepting of other faiths and religions? Mutual respect and civility. Get to know each other! Most Americans who have negative opinions about Muslims have never met a Muslim! The American Muslims in turn need to also get more engaged in the “mainstream” as they have felt that after accomplishing a few goals like becoming doctors, computer scientists etc, they have achieved the American dream.  They need to reach out to their non-Muslim neighbors and communities and get more fully engaged in civil, political, media and interfaith arenas.

12.              What makes your book stand out from other literature on the subject? The literature on comparative scriptures is relatively sparse. Very few, if any, focus on the themes presented in The Quran and the Bible. Unfortunately, they tend to be negative towards one or the other scripture and often lack objectivity and openness. Breaking the trend, The Quran: With or Against the Bible? is a bold and refreshing addition to the field of comparative religion. The thematic review of the Scriptures and comparison with a focus on finding the similarities, all presented in a single volume, make this book unique among the available literature on religion. Most of all, the review is non-polemical and is objective.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. Please note Ejaz Naqvi is a client of Media Connect, the firm I work for. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013

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