Two years ago we took an enormous step backwards, technologically speaking, when we published the first Amazin' Avenue Annual (free PDF download still available). Though you could buy the book from Amazon, most people just downloaded it for free. A few thousand people, actually. That was the test case: not only to see if we could really put a book together, but to see if anyone would care to read it. Both of those things happened, and we had plenty of help from our friends.
Last year we did it again, only this time we took away the free option and made you buy the book. As a bonus, we made the book available on your Kindles, Nooks, and iPads, and hooked up with ACTA Sports to bring the AAA to Barnes & Noble stores in the tri-state area. We got more help from more friends, and the book sold around 1,000 copies, shabby by J.K. Rowling's standards but not bad for a bunch of jabronis with basically no publishing experience.
I greatly enjoyed the time we spent on the books, and while my wife may offer a different view on that point, I'm incredibly proud of what we accomplished. In addition to what we posted on the site, we (and our wonderful and generous contributors) wrote some 600 pages of content for the two annuals; several thousand people read those books, many of whom weren't at all related to any of us.
This year, well, there isn't going to be an Amazin' Avenue Annual, at least not like the last two. While we may consider doing smaller, electronic-only editions in the future (e.g., using Kindle Singles as a platform), the lengthy printed books were just too time-consuming and offered too little return on that investment. There are three main reasons we wrote the AAAs, in decreasing order of importance:
- To see if we could do it.
- To promote the website.
- To make a few bucks.
We nailed the first. The second was probably a marginal success. The third was about the same as the second. Regarding promotion of the site, while it's true that thousands of people read the two annuals, a considerable proportion of those people were already well aware of us. Certainly in the case of the 2010 annual, since you had to download it, chances are good that you found the download link at Amazin' Avenue. For the 2011 annual, among readers who weren't familiar with what we do, I suspect some modest subset figured out that the book was related to a website, and a still smaller group bothered to check that website out.
With respect to finance, again, the first book was free, and despite Mark Himmelstein's protestations that we'd make it up in volume, it just didn't happen. In 2011 we sold 1,000 books or so, which is a good number, but after paying for printing, electronic conversion, pizza, and winter beer samplers, there's just not a whole lot of money left to spread around. If we had sold 10,000 copies, then we'd have made some decent scratch. I'll reiterate that financial considerations were not our chief concern, but given the questionable value of the book to the site's success, a financial windfall would surely have been a welcome consolation. In other words, if you didn't buy a book then it's your fault we're not doing one this year.
Apart from all of that, it has been and will continue to be a very busy year for the principals involved in the creation process. Speaking for myself, Kim and I have a baby boy on the way, due April 1, so adding another AAA on top of that, which itself is on top of my already gapless schedule, may well have been the end of me.
As I mentioned above, we won't rule out doing something book-like in the future, but for now we're going to pour all of our baseball-related efforts into Amazin' Avenue. Thank you to everyone who supported our efforts through the first two books, they would not have been worth doing without you.