Every year we look back on how our new books have performed, and a bit later than usual - here is the 2014 edition of our retrospective! As ever we will be taking a series-by-series approach and revealing the surprise packages, the best-sellers and from time to time the titles that didn't quite meet our expectations. This first blog covers Aircraft of the Aces, Air Vanguard, Campaign, Combat, Combat Aircaft and Duel.
Aircraft of the Aces
Top of the pile: A really strong performance for ACE 120 P-38 Lightning Aces 1942–43 which led from the front in 2014 - and remains the clear leader of the pack despite having been out for less than a year. Unsurprisingly it racked up hefty sales in the US, but crucially was picked up solidly around the world too.
The surprise package: No staggering surprises in the ACE series in 2014, though we were taken a bit by surprise by the performance of the P-38 title.
Not quite there yet: Quite a few of the team had backed ACE 121 Morane-Saulnier MS.406 Aces as an outside bet for topping the end of year rankings for the Aircraft of the Aces series - particularly with the very strong sales history for the French Tanks books in the New Vanguard series. Perhaps, just like the actual type, it couldn't live up to the more technically superior aircraft out there?
Top of the pile: It has a longer sales track than most of the other titles having published way back in January 2014, but zooming into first place for Air Vanguard was AVG 12 Lockheed A-12: The CIA's Blackbird and Other Variants, which had one of the best first year sales ever for the relatively wet-behind-the-ears AVG series.
The surprise package: We love First World War aviation titles here at Osprey HQ - partly because the artwork always ends up being so colourful. So we have been really pleased with how well AVG 13 Albatros D.III: Johannisthal, OAW, and Oeffag Variants has been received. And just look at that cover art... lush!
Not quite there yet: There has been a bit of a surge in interest in Cold War types and particularly in Soviet tech, uniforms and equipment over the last couple of years - but that surge wasn't enough to get AVG 14 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 to the top of the sales charts. It didn't miss out by much, but ended up getting beaten by the A-12, Albatros and following a late surge, the Stuka.
Top of the pile: Too close to call between the leading contenders (our latest stats suggest fewer than 10 copies difference between the two best-selling titles in the Campaign series in 2014. CAM 259 The Chesapeake Campaigns 1813-15 and CAM 268 Operation Neptune 1944 topped the charts for the series. Published in the same month Operation Neptune looks to have won by a nose (or should that be a spine?).
The surprise package: Commissioning a three-book series, to all be published in less than a year is a bit of a risk with our series publishing - and not something that was taken lightly, but with the 200th anniversary of Waterloo around the corner we decided to revisit the battle with a trilogy of titles. And we have been heartily pleased by how well the first book was received in 2014. CAM 276 Waterloo 1815 (1) Quatre Bras sales exploded out of the blocks (and has continued to sell well this year).
Not quite there yet: Time and time again you have correctly pointed out that the 18th century is a bit of a black hole for Osprey, particularly with the Campaign series - so we are a bit disappointed to still see CAM 275 Ramillies 1706 marshalling the rearguard for the series this year. It obviously hasn't quite has as long to bed in as some of the Campaigns published earlier in 2014, but it has a lot of catching up to do!
Top of the pile: Romans continue to dominate our bestselling charts - the relatively young Combat series saw CBT 6 Roman Soldier vs Germanic Warrior - 1st Century AD towering above the rest of the list in 2014.
The surprise package: When we first started working on the Combat series we didn't think it was possible to do justice to non-modern subjects in the series. We had set ourselves a pretty daunting list of requirements for the series, requirements that were tough to live up to with 19th, 20th and even 21st century subjects, but which looked to completely rule out ancient or medieval subjects. But series editor Nick Reynolds and Lindsay Powell worked very closely together to get CBT 6 Roman Soldier vs Germanic Warrior to live up to the standards we were demanding for the series, garnering it not only the bestselling title of the year award but the surprise package award too!
Not quite there yet: All the CBT titles have performed above our expectations in 2014, so there isn't really a title that we can pick out as not quite hitting the heights we hoped for. But, for the sake of this list and if we are being really picky, we would probably say that we wanted more from the UK and ROW sales for CBT 5 British Infantryman vs German Infantryman - Somme 1916 - because the US have currently sold more copies than the UK - though with the ongoing 100th anniversary commemorations of the First World War swirling around the UK sales are catching up!
Top of the pile: Jetting to the front of the pack was COM 102 F-111 & EF-111 Units in Combat, with a storming 2014 performance.
The surprise package: We had some sneaky high hopes for this title and are pleased as punch that our hopes have been confirmed with a fantastic performance from COM Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Sparviero Torpedo-Bomber Units, which slotted comfortably into the top 3 selling Combat Aircraft titles for the year (comfortably wedged between the F-104 Starfighter and the F9F Panther).
Not quite there yet: COM 104 AV-8B Harrier Units of Operation Enduring Freedom didn't have the impact of its predecessor, COM 90, which has performed very solidly when it first came out back in 2011. Perhaps the extra 3 years since the retirement of the Harrier on this side of the pond contributed to much quieter sales?
Top of the pile: No contest. Absolutely no contest. All opposition was crushed by the behemoth that is Duel 58 Jagdpanther vs SU-100: Eastern Front 1945. In fact, Duel 58 crushed all series opposition out there, for the first time ever beating usual star sellers Men-at-Arms and Campaign to the very top of the sales charts. Well played sir. Very well played.
The surprise package: We can't help but be taken aback by Duel 58 taking the 2014 bestseller crown, but another Duel had a storming year - with Duel 60 Spitfire V vs C.202 Folgore: Malta 1942 only just being pipped to the post by Duel 62 F6F Hellcat vs A6M Zero-sen which is pretty impressive as virtually all our Japanese aviation titles usually rule the roost!
Not quite there yet: We didn't have much lined up for naval Duel titles in 2014, but we thought we may have had a bit of a sleeper hit on our hands with Duel 57 Q Ship vs U-Boat - a title that did well, but which we had hoped would go on to score more highly - though strong sales in the UK seem set to carry on for a while yet.
So that is the first half of our books - keep an eye out for a follow-up blog looking at our other series titles from 2014 in the coming days.