Who bought The Chassis Data?
The Chassis Data was the first instalment of my multi-volume history of Jensen. It sold out in 2016, a quarter century after its 1991 release.
For 25 years it was the go-to source for anyone who needed to know the particulars of a Jensen car. A revised edition is not in prospect at this time but the copies in circulation will, I hope, help owners with queries about the original specification of their cars.
The Chassis Data was the foundation stone for my three subsequent Jensen books, none of which could have been completed without the basic research which led to this "bible" of Jensen car production. The Chassis Data will also underpin other Jensen books which I hope are yet to come.
With that in mind, it's interesting to see how it sold over the years.
For a start, you could hardly call it a best seller. The print order was a notional 1000 copies which, with the overrun, ended up being 1128. Of these, 88 were given away in promotions, legal deposit, reviews and as presents and prizes. A few were issued to replace damaged or lost copies and I retain some archival copies.
The upshot is that 1118 of them made their way out into the world. Over 25 years, that's an average of about 45 a year — less than one a week. Nothing flash about that rate of sales.
Geographically, this is where they went.
|MARKET AREA||PERCENTAGE OF DISTRIBUTION|
During that time, many individuals, clubs and other outlets sold databooks.
For 10 years, I did not live in Australia where the stock of books was kept, so
it was hard to keep the usual outlets supplied. Nevertheless, in 25 years
the books were sold from 21 outlets, the main ones being as follows:
|OUTLET||PERCENTAGE OF DISTRIBUTION|
|Jensen Owners Club||35%|
|Jensen Healey Preservation Society||8%|
|Jensen Owners Register & JMNZ||6%|
|The Jensen Club||4%|
|Cropredy Bridge Garage||4%|
|Association of Jensen Owners||3%|
|Het Jensen Genootschap||3%|
|Swedish Jensen Drivers Club||1%|
|Swiss Jensen Owners Club||1%|
I use a books/cars index to determine where my books are finding the strongest
support. The Chassis Data index shows that, relative to the population of
Jensen cars sold into the various markets, Australia, New Zealand and the
Netherlands were the strongest supporters of the book. A books/cars index of 1.0 is
what may be considered "normal". The UK market falls into this band
while the USA was substantially weaker as a market for databooks.
PERCENTAGE OF BOOK SALES
|BOOKS / CARS INDEX|
25 years is a long time to be storing books, keeping them clean and dry and free from roaches and mice. The lesson in this for me has been that print runs of this size are too high for a niche market like Jensen. As a result, the latest book — Original Interceptor & FF — has been produced in a print run of only 500 copies, the lowest of the four runs to date. This will help ensure that the storage time is not so long but it also means that the unit cost goes up.
There's a limit to how many 25 year periods you can squeeze into one life. I suppose the moral of the story is this — get it while you can.
© Richard Calver 2016