Turkey's spiritual book sales on the rise

Published 21.05.2015 00:00
Updated 21.05.2015 22:35

Spiritual books dominated the Turkish book market last year, as books by Uğur Koşar, who describes himself as a ‘spiritual consultant,' took the top two places on Turkey's best-seller list last year. An interesting revelation on the list included the non-literary books of six authors among the best sellers

The Top-Earning Authors List, which was published in the May issue of Forbes Turkey, is said to be one of the most interesting analyses published this year. The eighth edition of the list deserves attention, as new names and categories emerged last year. A "spiritual" transformation surrounds the list's top ranks. Uğur Koşar ranks first on the list with TL 1.7 million ($662,445) in royalty revenues generated in 2014. Although his books seem religious at first sight, they can also be included in the personal development genre. Describing himself as a "spiritual consultant," Koşar is creator of the "Theatrical Therapy System" and "Nur Terapisi" (Divine Light Therapy). Describing his method, he said: "I do not introduce you to something new, but lead you to discover your own self that you have forgotten." Koşar believes there are no truly unhappy people, but just those who think that they will never be happy. "What makes humans tired is not life itself, but the masks we wear," he said. Koşar's therapy techniques and books center on how it is possible to get rid of these masks.Last year, his three books sold more than 100,000 copies. His 2013 book "Allah de Ötesini Bırak" (Say God and Let Everything Rest) has sold 400,000 copies, 290,000 of which were published in 2014. Koşar's "Bana Allah Yeter" (God is Enough for Me) sold 230,000 copies and "Rabbin için Sabret" (Be Patient for Your God) sold 117,000 copies. His other books have sold a combined 120,000 copies. He was the best-selling Turkish author in 2014 with 757,000 copies sold, also making him the top-earning author with TL 11.3 million in turnover and TL 1.7 million in royalty revenues, according to the list.

This year's list also reveals interesting findings, as the non-literary books of six authors are among the best-selling. Soner Yalçın and Yılmaz Özdil made the list with their political books once again, while İlber Ortaylı made the list with his historical book. Metin Hara, Nevzat Tarhan and Ahmet Güneş break through to readers with their psychological books, making the list for the first time. These findings also demonstrate that Turkish readers are expanding their interest in different book genres.Novelists, who usually rank in the top 10, did well in 2013. Many well-known authors, such as Elif Şafak, Zülfü Livaneli, Ayşe Kulin, Ahmet Ümit, Canan Tan, İskender Pala and Sinan Yağmur, introduced new books that year. Last year, however, Ümit, Livaneli and Şafak did not publish a new book, so Şafak entered the list at the bottom. The reprints of Ümit's and Livaneli's earlier books helped the authors to make the list, however.

Kulin, who broke her ties with Everest Publishing two years ago, was the top-earning novelist on the list with TL 1.5 million generated in royalty revenues. Her two books, each of which sold 150,000 copies this year, were critical to this success.

The books of the 20 top-earning authors in 2014 totaled 4.1 million copies and created TL 74.1 million in turnover in the market, while the total royalty revenue generated by these authors was TL 12.3 million. Last year, that figure was more than TL 14 million. The decrease in revenues is attributed to the lower performance of novelists compared to last year.

It is important to note that the Turkish book market is experiencing a significant transformation, and many bookstores have been structurally changed. It is becoming difficult to find bookstores that sell only books in Beşiktaş, Taksim and Kadıköy, where shop rents are comparatively high. Many bookstores also run a cafe or restaurant, which means the number of books available is less than expected. It also means that is difficult to find old books, often because customers prefer buying books from websites.

Another change being closely followed by publishers is the number of printed copies continues to decrease with technological advancements. To meet publishing expenses, a book must print at least 1,000 copies. However, it is now possible to publish 50,000 copies of a book. There are even small publishing houses that offer services to amateur authors. Such publishing houses generally receive an order via the Internet and for almost TL 2,000 to publish 50 copies of a 200-page book. The system might increase the number of authors, but more importantly, publishing and storage expenses will be reduced. Furthermore, many books whose publishing is not profitable and only have 15 or 20 readers can still be republished.

The ongoing transformation might provide a certain level of financial ease for the publishing market. According to findings by the Turkish Publishers Association, there are more than 700 publishing houses in Turkey. However, this diversity does not affect the Top-Earning Authors List. Only seven publishing houses are represented by the authors on the list. This year, however, Destek Publishing marks its name being represented on the list. The publishing house introduced not only the books of Koşar, but also four other authors that made the list as well. These include Ahmet Batman, Kahraman Tazeoğlu, Metin Hara and Azra Kohen.The findings of the Turkish Publishers Association also show that the Turkish book market expanded last year. The number of books published increased by 7 percent, as more than 50,000 books were released. Moreover, the number of books that were authenticated increased by 4 percent, reaching 344 million. The figure demonstrates that 7.3 books per person were produced last year. The growth potential of the book market amounts to around TL 2.4 million, yet 51 percent of the market consists of educational publications. Cultural publications are around 39 percent and have a share worth TL 935 million. Literary publications have a share of only TL 112 million. In other words, the share of literature among cultural publications is only 12 percent and 4.7 percent overall.

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