D&D General Darksun novel sales! From Ben Riggs.

darjr

I crit!
I have my Darksun novels sitting in the bookshelf right next to me now. Just took them out again, may read them.
Actual! Dark Sun novel! Sales numbers!

TSR alumni are cultural treasures and gaming icons. One point that a lot of TSR alumni have been making on my posts is that while setting sales and core sales were down, novel and adventure sales made up for those losses.

Did they?

I don’t have a lot of novel and adventure sales, but I have everything for Dark Sun. So let’s look at those numbers and see the tale they tell.

While in the early 1990s, Dark Sun novel sales were quite healthy, they fell and then collapsed in the mid-to-late 90s. More novels were returned than sold in ‘98 and ‘99.

Check my feed tomorrow, because we’ll take a look at Dark Sun adventure sales!

My book on D&D history, Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons is out today! If you find me interesting, go to a bookstore and buy it! Link in the comments.

Also, as always, actual data is below.


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Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Huh... so the novels were more popular than the box itself? That's... actually kind of awesome.

And terrible. Obviously.

I'm wondering if what we're seeing is that after Forgotten Realms it became a situation where only the DM in a given friend group would purchase the box set and then lend it out if someone took over?
 


Reynard

Legend
I would be curious to know how many copies of any given novel were sold, or at least how many were published per year to help make sense of that data.
 



Jer

Legend
Supporter
I wonder. Could it it be that the books being available more broadly in the book trade make a difference?
Also just that there's a larger audience for paperback novels than for gaming supplements. Even if you made the boxed sets more broadly available, you need more people playing the game to buy them. The novels could be read by people who didn't play the game at all.
 

The Scythian

Explorer
Does this stand in as a proxy for other novel sales?
Depending on the series or product line, other novel sales might have been better by a significant margin. The Dragonlance novels were mainstream fantasy bestsellers and I think the same was true of some of the Forgotten Realms novels.
 

darjr

I crit!
Depending on the series or product line, other novel sales might have been better by a significant margin. The Dragonlance novels were mainstream fantasy bestsellers and I think the same was true of some of the Forgotten Realms novels.
Yea. Still it’s a good sign that they indeed did much better than the settings.
 

Reynard

Legend
Depending on the series or product line, other novel sales might have been better by a significant margin. The Dragonlance novels were mainstream fantasy bestsellers and I think the same was true of some of the Forgotten Realms novels.
How many Drizzt novels are there? It has to be rivalling Star Wars books by now.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
And this curve helps to explain why the other curves could look so bad but TSR would just keep throwing games at the wall and see what stuck.

Their novel lines were doing reasonable numbers while their game lines were tanking. But the material for the novel lines was coming from the game lines so TSR kept telling their creative folks to create more worlds to set novels in. I'll bet the numbers for the Ravenloft novel line are also pretty good - and the FR numbers would have been even better - even as the game lines themselves were not selling big numbers.

And that strategy worked until it didn't. Which I'd like to see more novel lines to make a more than educated judgment about, but with these numbers appears to be right around 1996. Which is not coincidentally when Random House sued TSR for lack of payment on their loan money and cut off the money fountain that TSR was relying on.
 

Novels always outsell games. Novels are basically what games pretend to be to people who don't want to play the game (adventure books read like novels etc).
 

Reynard

Legend
Novels always outsell games. Novels are basically what games pretend to be to people who don't want to play the game (adventure books read like novels etc).
I don't think the novel lines are stand ins for playing. I bet the vast majority of novel readers did not play and had no interest in playing and read the DL or FR novels exactly the same way with the same "goal" as they read Eddings of Feist.
 


I don't think the novel lines are stand ins for playing. I bet the vast majority of novel readers did not play and had no interest in playing and read the DL or FR novels exactly the same way with the same "goal" as they read Eddings of Feist.
That is exactly what I said.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I've known countless people who either. . .

have read many D&D novels, never played, and didn't care to

OR

had been reading those novels for years before ever finding people to introduce them to the actual game so they could try it.
 


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