Every year I promise that I will reveal a list of our bestselling books from the previous year to show you which books have done themselves proud. And each year when I embark on pulling together all the data I remember why I don't feel quite right doing it. Because... to cut a long story short... it isn't really fair on some of the books - after all, taking a look at a book that published in January... and comparing it to a book that published in October doesn't really offer a level playing field. All those early titles have months of head way on the other titles. But, with the help of our finance team (and their god-like knowledge of Excel) we have put together some predictive sales figures, hauled out some 2013 sales from older books, thrown in some averages and have finally come up with a semi-accurate(ish) list of books that have flown off the shelves around the world. So, to start - our top 12 titles of the year!
So, that is the Top 12 selling books for Osprey in 2012. Kinda. As you can see, despite our number crunching and meddling - the list is still dominated by titles from the earlier months in the year. And you will have probably noticed (with a few sterling exceptions) that the list is dominated by our General Military titles, thanks in no small part to the fantastic work of our editors and authors who put out a fantastic list of books for the year. In particular, we all had the highest of hopes for Boys of '67 by Andrew Wiest... and thankfully it looks like a lot of people out there enjoyed it as much as we did. Bolt Action also had a huge impact - launching a new Rules set is always a bit stressful, but between the stellar work of Phil and the team at Warlord I think we cracked it!
The list also highlights the ongoing dominance of World War II subjects - but of course all of the above is really just half of the picture - although our series books may not have the Hollywood appeal of some of our bigger hardback books, to us they are equally important and to not mention them would be amiss, so here is a list of the best performing titles in each series:
Aircraft of the Aces
ACE 105: Defiant, Blenheim and Havoc Aces - maybe getting three types of aircraft into one book gave it an unfair advantage, but we were hugely pleased to see this top a very challenging list!
AVG 2: Republic F-105 Thunderchief - ok, so this one is really, really unfair, as the series only launched towards the end of 2012, but so far the Thunderchief is winning the race!
CAM 239: Plataea 479 BC: The most glorious victory ever seen - it may have been beaten into fourth place in the overall standings by some very strong-selling World War II titles, but Plataea won the race for the best performing non-WW2 title in the Campaign series.
Command 22: Georgy Zhukov plotted its way to the top of the CMD charts - a storming read from the pen of Robert Forczyk - who was also responsible for Demyansk, one of our top selling Campaign titles for the year.
Combat Aircraft 83: Me 262 Bomber and Reconnaissance Units was the standout performer in the Combat Series in 2012, though if the legendary COM 63: Aichi 99 Kanbaku 'Val' Units had arrived just a month later, it would have snatched the crown (COM 63 published... finally... in December 2011)
Duel 48 USN Destroyer vs IJN Destroyer: The Pacific 1943 - did i mention that this list by and large tended towards the earlier months of the year? That didn't come into play with this book, which sold out within its first month and in just two months had sold more copies than any of its close rivals within the series. A spectacular effort!
Elite 119: Apache Tactics 1830-86 topped the list for the Elite series, despite having a rather oddly low looking series number. Essentially this was one of the titles we 'dropped' into an earlier numerical slot to replace a book that was announced, but for one reason or another never came out. This means that for all those collectors with Elite 118 and 120 on a shelf next to each other... you can now fill that frustrating gap! If you would like to know which non-Tactics Elite performed the best, look no further than Elite 187 Byzantine Imperial Guardsmen 925-1025: The Taghmata and Imperial Guard.
It was a bit of a two horse race in the Essential Histories series, but despite giving its closest rival a serious head start, the clear leader was Essential Histories 75 The Soviet-Afghan War 1979-89. Now, I'm not sure, but I think that might have something to do with the fact that the cover clearly features Mark Wahlberg. Have a look. What do you think?
Force on Force
Force on Force 6: Bush Wars: Africa 1960-2010 was the clear favourite with the Force on Force players out there, charging to victory without so much as breaking sweat under the blistering African sun.
Field of Glory Napoleonic
This one is not really a surprise - Field of Glory Napoleonic 1 sold more than the other two titles in the series. Which is unsurprising considering that you need the first book to get much use out of the next two.
This was a very, very close race, which was finally won by Fortress 106: Forts of the War of 1812. Both this and Fortress 107: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 did so well that we decided to end Fortresses year and a half long holiday, keep an eye out for the series returning in 2015.
This one was too close to call, with less than 20 copies between the two books once we had tried to predict long term performances etc. So, we have decided that the only fair way to proceed is to give the prize to two books, Men-at-Arms 479: Roman Centurions 31 BC- AD 500: The Classical and Late Empire and Men at Arms 481 The Spanish Tercios 1536-1704.
Two naval New Vanguard titles appeared in our overall top 12 bestsellers, so it is probably no surprise that another naval title was following close behind. New Vanguard 193 Austro-Hungarian Battleships 1914-18. And if you would like to know what the bestselling non-naval New Vanguard title was, New Vanguard 186: US Marine Corps Tanks of World War II was the best performing 'tanky' New Vanguard.
Both of the Osprey Wargames releases in 2012 performed fantastically well, but OWG 1: Dux Bellorum - Arthurian Wargaming Rules AD367-793 nicked it thanks to some particularly strong sales over here in the UK.
Raid 27: Tomahawk and Musket - French and Indian Raids in the Ohio Valley 1758 was a huge hit for the series, making it into our top 12 titles of 2012 (and it is still selling strongly!) but a mention has to go to the brilliant performance of Raid 28: Run the Gauntlet - The Channel Dash 1942 which only just lost out on a top 12 appearance, with Raid 30: Red Christmas - The Tatsinskaya Airfield Raid 1942 also doing really well for us. All round a fantastic year for Raid!
Warrior 163: Spartan Warrior 735-331 BC saw off a serious challenge from Warrior 162: Roman Republican Legionary 298-105 BC to snatch top billing in the Warrior series, which was quite a pleasant surprise to us - as Roman titles in the Warrior series have dominated in recent years.
This Weapon book had some of my favourite artwork in the whole of 2012 in it, so I am really pleased that Weapon 17: The Lee-Enfield Rifle has made its way onto the bookshelves of so many of you at home. It really is a bit of a dream team book with Pegler and Dennis doing their usual outstanding job (get the feeling this is one of my favourite books by any chance?).
That is a shame...
Over the past 40 odd years we have become rather good at predicting how our books are going to perform (we have had a lot of practice) but every now and then books don't quite hit the heights we anticipated, or that we felt that they deserved. Quite often these are fantastic books, but they just don't seem to have the surge of sales that we predicted.
For me the book that I really wanted to do fabulously well was Men-at-Arms 484: The Portuguese in the Age of Discovery c.1340-1665. My distant Portuguese heritage played a bit of role in this fixation... that and I bet my boss that it would outsell his favourite 2012 book Campaign 246: Borodino 1812: Napoleon's great gamble. Sadly I lost that bet. Speaking of Borodino, it was actually our bestselling Campaign title of the year in the UK - which is brilliant - though it didn't quite have the same sway over in the US, dropping it right down the sales charts.
With New Vanguard the popularity of naval subjects continues to dominate, and the challenge to find new books on tanks is getting harder every year. But we did manage to cover a big chunk of tanks that had been missed for ages with NVG 191: Italian Light Tanks and NVG 195: Italian Medium Tanks. We had hoped that these two books would dominate the NVG list more strongly and although they both performed well, they didn't hit the heights we were hoping for. Much like the actual tanks I would imagine.
Last of all is Raid 31: Gothic Serpent - Black Hawk Down Mogadishu 1993. Because if we had been pressed about it last year, this is the book that the majority would have picked as topping the Raid series sales and possibly breaking into the top 12 titles of the year. It didn't quite get into the top 12 and was beaten into a lowly third place by the two Raids mentioned above. But then, when you are trying to predict the performance of 120-odd titles a year, every now and then you get a couple wrong...