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Sales Statistics for ARRL Radio Amateur's Handbook?

Nov 16th 2011, 17:39

K3FU

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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This is a ARRL publication that I have in my shack, and have also seen on many other's bookshelves, including those of college professors and working engineers. You may be aware of this Time Magazine article from 1968 where it was named #16 on a list of all-time best sellers in non-fiction books:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,837843,00.html

My question is, how are its sales statistics recently? Has anyone been tracking overall sales over the years, and would it still rank competitively if the 1968 Time Magazine list was recompiled today? I directed these questions to the ARRL Technical Information Service some time back (around 2006). Zack Lau, W1VT, replied saying that he would look into it, but I never heard back.

I was just curious myself, and always looking for good talking points to sell the ARRL and the Radio Amateur's Handbook to friends and colleagues, some of whom may or may not be currently licensed amateurs.

TNX ES 73,

Paul, K3FU
Dec 7th 2011, 03:26

W1RFIAdmin

Joined: Jul 25th 2011, 14:25
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Hi, Paul,

ARRL's marketing folks consider the sales figures to be proprietary, so I can't share them directly. In general, the sales of "hard" technical books has declined for all types of technical publications, and ARRL's indifvidual technical pubs are certainly no exception. That is offset and then some with the fact that there are a lot more available books in ARRL's catalog now than there were in the 1960s, for example, so overall, more hams are buying more print information, I would think.

With the amount of information available via the Internet, folks just seem to need fewer paper books, so they are targeting their book budget towards the smaller pubs to cover their current interests, at least more than they did when the Handbook was almost the sole ARRL source of information on a particular technical subject. Over the years, ARRL has added a lot of topical books that were not available in the "heyday" of ARRL's large book sales, so the purchases are spread out among many (less expensive) publications instead of the single big Handbook and Antenna Book, as was common for hams to buy in decades past.

So for the purpose you are citing, I don't think that sales figures are the main selling point anyway. I have had a number of engineers tell me that the ARRL Handbook is hands down the most comprehensive practical technical publication they know. That is a much stronger selling point than trying to compare apples to oranges in looking at sales data from decades past where the entire marketing, information and overall publication strategy was much different from today.

73,
Ed Hare, W1RFI
ARRL Lab
Dec 8th 2011, 04:28

AA6E

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Proprietary or not, if you want a challenge, you can get a copy of the League's annual report and try to "reverse engineer" the financial data to figure out something about the publishing results.

I note that the 2011 Handbook is in 69,918th position at Amazon. Is that good or bad? (It is competing with vampire stories and whatever else people are reading now.) You decide.

The Volakis Antenna Engineering Handbook is at 537,784, while Horowitz/Hill Art of Electronics is at 19,749.

73 Martin AA6E
Dec 9th 2011, 01:54

W0BTU

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Quote by W1RFIAdmin
ARRL's marketing folks consider the sales figures to be proprietary...


That surprises me, Ed. I can appreciate that a for-profit company would take that stance, but I thought the ARRL was a non-profit.

Who owns the ARRL? I assume it's still "Of, by, and for the radio amateur".

73, Mike
www.w0btu.com
Dec 10th 2011, 22:36

AA6E

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Total Posts: 0

Quote by W0BTU
Who owns the ARRL? I assume it's still "Of, by, and for the radio amateur".

As a non-profit, no one "owns" the League. Policies are ultimately set by the Board of Directors under the terms of the by-laws, etc. You might chat with your Director.

73 Martin AA6E
Dec 16th 2011, 01:28

W1RFIAdmin

Joined: Jul 25th 2011, 14:25
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
Generally, the ARRL BoD sets ARRL policy, but doesn't directly get involved with the day-to-day operation of the organization.

"Not for profit" does not mean that ARRL should or could be fiscally irresponsible. It must husband the resources that it has available. What not-for-profit means is that at the end of the year, there are no profits to be divided among the owners or shareholders. That doesn't change the need for ARRL to have some ventures that generate excess revenue over expenses that is used to fund those activities that cost revenue instead of generating it.

ARRL's sale of publications is part of that revenue stream. I can think of some good and valid reasons that ARRL would want to keep some of the aspects of its operation proprietary. ARRLs publications compete with other publications for sales and marketing. If ARRL did not treat some aspects of its marketing and marketing strategy proprietary, those who are in competition would have valuable marketing information that they could use to compete more effectively with the League. That would impact revenue and the real bottom line with respect to revenue is that the ups and downs of ARRL's financial resources limit the things that ARRL can do.

If ARRL's publications marketing folks treat that operation like a business, I am perfectly glad that they do, because those revenue dollars are a significant part of the resources that the ARRL Lab uses to do things that are important to me.

As the old saying goes, be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it! :-)

73, Ed Hare, W1RFI
ARRL Lab

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