I receive emails almost daily about why I have stopped blogging regularly. Some people have even asked whether I have abdicated my blogger’s chair. I have not. (In truth, there are many empty chairs next to me; so if you want one, please have a seat.)
There are only so many hours in the day – and this year, I have focused considerable energy in getting The Karaite Press off the ground. For background, The Karaite Press is a project of the Karaite Jews of America, and its aim is to provide literary resources for Karaite Jews and Jews interested in Karaite Judaism.
The Karaite Press Launched in February 2016, by taking pre-orders for the book Esther Explained, a commentary on the Book of Esther, by Hakham Jacob ben Reuben (12 century, Byzantium). Today, I am happy to announce that The Karaite Press has been a success, and I will offer thoughts on where The Press can go from here.
When it comes to determining whether something like this is a success, I am very data-driven. So, here are some numbers that demonstrate the type of success The Karaite Press has seen.
Here is some sales data on the orders placed through TheKaraitePress.com and Amazon:
Number of Unique Orders
This is nothing short of amazing. In under a year, the Karaite Jews of America went from selling virtually zero books to selling 840 items. The reason I say items and not books is because some of the items sold are Karaite Fact Cards (currently only available from The Karaite Press). 
These numbers suggest that there is a viable market for Karaitica. And not just an academic market, a lay persons market.
To be fair, The Karaite Press itself has only published two books to date: Royal Attire and Esther Explained. So, many of the products sold were Karaite works produced by persons other than The Karaite Press. For example, the Karaite Jewish Passover Haggadah was a collaboration by members of the KJA and members of the Karaite Jews of Israel; as was the Abbreviated Karaite Blessings Book. The Karaite Jews of Egypt was written by Mourad El Kodsi, and others are selling new copies for about $80, but the Karaite Jews of America is selling copies for $35. This is a real value add to consumers.
It is not just the number of items that were sold that is impressive. I am also happy that Royal Attire once was in the top 6,000 best selling books on Amazon. (Given how many books there are on Amazon, that’s not nothing.) Here is a screen shot showing its Amazon best seller ranking on September 27, 2016.
I am pretty sure that it also cracked the top 5,000, but I recently switched computers and do not have that screenshot.
But there is also significant room for improvement for The Karaite Press itself.
- First, we need to expand the number of persons working on literary projects, and we need to do so with a focus on persons with academic training. (As an aside, I will eventually need to find someone to take my role.)
- Second, we made a critical mistake by offering Esther Explained as a pre-sale item through The Karaite Press’s Shopify site, rather than directing these sales through Amazon. Amazon promotes products that sell, and as far as Amazon is concerned, Esther Explained did not sell. Perhaps for this year’s Purim festivities, we will do a push through Amazon.
- Third, the Karaite Press has also not done a marketing push to persons who purchased previous books. So, some people might not even know about new works that come out. We’ll have to change this for next year.
- Fourth, we have too many works that are near completion, but are not yet completed. The worst spot for The Karaite Press to be in is to have a work that is mostly done, but not finalized and to the market. There are three works in that position. A fourth one that is one step behind those, and another one that is slightly behind that fourth one. Yes, you read that right. If we are operating The Karaite Press successfully, we will see at least three works published next year (and potentially up to five).
You can hear about these upcoming works and deals by following The Karaite Press on Facebook. For now, THANK YOU to everyone who has made The Karaite Press possible and successful. And if you are interested in helping me run The Karaite Press, drop me a comment below and I will reach out to you.
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1. As noted at The Karaite Press, the KJA is selling Karaite fact cards at its total cost. The KJA is simply trying to clear its inventory ahead of its upcoming renovation.