File this one under "petty" ~ theatre notes

Saturday, October 13, 2007

File this one under "petty"

You all know that my worser self takes over now and again. I'm afraid I had a day like that yesterday. Oh, I could just slap myself.

Andrew Bolt, who much prefers to play the man rather than the ball, had a couple of goes at me when I took issue with him over the programming - and the non-existent non-audiences - at the Melbourne Festival. Specifically, he got personal about our respective book sales. "Considering part of my copyright fees were used to help send Croggon to read her poetry in Britain," he says (is that envy I detect there?) "I think she could at least be more grateful. I’m pretty sure I’ll never get an overseas junket in return that’s funded by her sales." Take that, Croggon. But he forgot - that is, if he ever knew - that I actually write popular books.

So I've pointed out that my sales are simmering along nicely. While hardly in JK Rowling territory, they are now in six figures. He's being uncharacteristically shy about his own sales, so my fingers flew to Amazon. Amazon US doesn't list him at all, but on British Amazon - underneath various books about bolt-action rifles - you can find Mr Bolt's immortal tome, Still Not Sorry (released by News Custom Publishing, ie, our mutual employer, in 2005). Amazon UK today puts its sales rank at 1,416,346. In comparison, today's ranking for The Crow (it changes, but it's usually around there) on is 2551. Or maybe it might be fairer to look at The Riddle, released, like Still Not Sorry, in 2005. It's at 2806. Take that, Bolt.

And now the Bolt defenders are telling me huffily that mere sales are not a reflection of quality! The irony is exquisite! And you were saying about the MIAF box office, Andy...?

(PS: In the fact-free parallel universe that is Boltworld, it seems that selling out 10 shows after the first weekend means that "nobody is going". I wonder what one has to do to be a hit? Sell as well as Andrew's books?)


naive theatre goer said...

I don't have any opinion about the box office figures given that I've never seen what the takings would be if every event sold out. If selling out every event would generate $6 million, then takings of $1 million wouldn't sound good. But if selling out every event would generate $1.2 million, then $1 million in sales would look excellent. It would look better than another city that generated $3.5 million when sellouts would have generated $10 million.

Does anyone have any idea what the MIAF sales figures would be if they sold out every event? I know it's a bit rubbery given the possibility of concessions, discounts for bulk purchases, etc. but maybe some approximate figure based on the normal % that involve concessions, etc. could be given. Without some idea about that, I don't have a clue what to think when people (on both sides of the debate) start throwing around sales figures accompanied by claims about how good or how bad they are.

Alison Croggon said...

You're absolutely correct, NTG: box office figures are totally rubbery. Probably the most useful figures in terms of popularity of events are house percentages. Financial return isn't going to be indicative of much at all: there are too many variables. A show like Robert Wilson's is never going to make its money back, even if it plays to full houses every night. The real question is whether we want to see shows of that scale and quality here. I do.

Bardassa said...

I confused by the statement that his copyright fees were used to send you to Britian. By copyright fees, he means royalties I presume. Aren't royalties given to the author/creator? How did they get into someone else hands? What's he talking about?

Alison Croggon said...

He's referring to Copyright Agency Ltd giving me a grant (they're funding all sorts of things at the moment). From what I understand, those copyright fees are generated mainly from photocopy fees for university textbooks. Not sales. Which is where the confusion comes in: that's neither me nor him, though I'm sure there'd be more of me in a lit dept. But hey, I'm always up for a cheap shot in a cheap contest.

declan said...

after reading your 'culture vulturing' post i went to sleep and had this incredibly vivid dream in which i vomited green milk all over andrew bolt. i wish i could say it was a direct projectile spray in his face but it wasn't; it was down his back.

genevieve said...

Alison, I am too lazy to go fetch a couple of diacritics for this remark, mais ca, c'est un vrai succes de scandale, cherie.

Paul Martin said...

Alison, on the odd occasion that I vention to Bolt-land (usually because someone like yourself has linked to it), I'm always appalled at the level of vitriol and contempt, what to speak of ignorance, on display.

Maybe I'm sounding like a broken record, but the outrage that a government could spend a few million bucks on the arts (and ignoring the billions spent on a futile war) is staggering. I momentarily considered posting something about this on Bolt's page, but I wouldn't waste my time.

Anonymous said...

Alison, all I can say is that when you're raising the ire of Howards little jack-boot kid you know you're doing something right!Keep it up, its much appreciated.