Confusion

So today I was wanting to look at how the little eBook I wrote recently was doing as far as sales go. I figured I'd write a post about it and thank everyone who has bought a copy because I am genuinely surprised this many people have been interested in it. Only, when I tried to go to the Amazon page where I'd see the results, I accidentally went to the blogger Anders's page instead. I meant to type "am" for Amazon but had instead typed "an" which led my web browser's autocomplete feature to think I meant And Then There's Physics.

This isn't a big deal, of course. It'd have been easy for me to simply type in the right address and just ignore my mistake. I decided not to though. Out of curiosity, I thought I'd look a little at what Anders has writen recently. He puts his entire posts on the main page of his blog, which has always baffled me, but that does make it easy to quickly skim his recent writings. This led me to see a rather... confusing claim by him. In a post criticizing a person named William Happer, Anders took issue with something Happer said:

Rather bizarrely, he then says

And it would take a century or two to double CO2 concentrations at the current rate of burning fossil fuels.

We’re currently increasing atmospheric CO2 at more than 2ppm/year. Hence at current rates it will take no more than a further 80 years to have doubled CO2 relative to pre-industrial levels. However, we expect the airborne fraction to increase as we continue to emit CO2. Hence it could take considerably less than 80 years. It will also depend on how much we emit in the coming years; it’s certainly quite possible that we could double atmospheric CO2 (relative to pre-industry) in the next few decades.

I think it takes a special sort of effort to misunderstand someone this bad. Happer said it "would take a century or two to double CO2 concentrations." A normal person would probably understand this to mean from present values. After all, Happer didn't say anything about pre-industrial carbon dioxide levels, and what he said makes perfect sense for a doubling from current levels. Current carbon dioxide levels are ~400ppm, meaning at an increase of even 3ppm/year, it'd take over a century to double 400ppm.

If you go that far out of your way to misunderstand somebody, I am sure what they say will seem rather bizarre. I normally wouldn't have written a post about this example though. It isn't that interesting. Only, the topic of confusion is rather relevant because I am very much confused about something I've noticed regarding my book sales:

3_22_sales

The huge spike in the middle is obviously due to the Watts Up With That post promoting my book. As I expected, that attention caused a surge in sales which tapered off relatively quickly. What confuses me is what came next. Maybe it was just me being pessimistic, but I expected sales to drop more. I wouldn't have been surprised if I sold 0-3 copies a day instead of the 8 or so day I was selling this week.

But look at the end there. The last two days have had higher sale rates than in almost a week. I don't know what caused that. Maybe someone posted a link somewhere and that caused a few extra sales, or maybe there's some other explanation. I know nothing about marketing so I wouldn't care to guess.

Whatever the reason for the continued sales may be, I am both grateful and flattered. I hope everyone enjoys the book!

Oh, and I'll probably go back to regular posting now. I think I've let posts about this book be at the top for long enough.

7 comments

  1. 🙂 Steven Mosher made this point.

    So you're well on your way to establishing your publishing Empire! Remember us simple folk when you reach the peaks of success! 🙂

  2. My 99 cent empire will take over the world!

    Actually, if I write half a dozen or more of these, I could potentially combine them into a single book and get physical copies published. That doesn't seem likely to happen, but...

  3. There is definitely a continuous rising trend partially obscured by a massive El Niño followed by a short hiatus before the normal trend once again becomes apparent. I am 97% certain of this.

  4. In that case, can you predict tomorrow's sales? Today wound up being 11 units, a little below the previous 13 and 14, but it may go up again. Especially if you say it will then buy copies to prove you're right 😛

  5. Brandon,

    Congrats on your book and it's success.

    My guess is that your sales boost is due to greater visibility. The Watts boost gave you a nice push, which gave you a better ranking in the sales algorithm, which results in more exposure. The "New For You", "Suggested Reading", "Inspired By Your Browsing History", - many many places Amazon promotes good sellers.

    It is hard to get noticed, but once you do, it builds on itself.

    Cheers!

  6. I think you're right to an extent, and that would cause sales to not taper off into nothing like they would otherwise, but I really do think that peak toward the end was caused by something else. It was probably just something simple like a person posting a link somewhere causing a few extra sales, but they seem to be dropping back down a bit to the 6-8 copies range, not the 12-15 copies range. But maybe I'm over-thinking it.

    One thing that is interesting is there was a similar spike in sales for one of my previous eBooks after Steve McIntyre wrote a post about it. Sales tapered off more quickly than with this one. I think that might reflect the difference in subject matter. The other one focused on the Hockey Stick debate and dealt with science and somewhat technical issues. This one deals more with social issues. I think that might make it seem more appealing to people who see it via the types of exposure you refer to. I think people would be more inclined to buy this book than the other if they saw both at random.

    Which tells me I should stop writing about science issues because that's not where the money is at!

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