Sunday, June 3, 2007

U.S. Book Production Rebounded Slightly in 2006

R.R. Bowker, the global leader in bibliographic information management, today released statistics on U.S. book publishing for 2006, compiled from its Books In Print® database. Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker is projecting that U.S. title output in 2006 increased by more than 3% to 291,920 new titles and editions, up from the 282,500 published in 2005.

This rise reverses the title output drop experienced in 2005, which came after seven years of increases and a peak of 295,523 new titles issued in 2004.

"What these statistics for last year illustrate is that most publishers are done with retrenching for the time being," said Kelly Gallagher, general manager of the business intelligence business unit for New Providence, N.J.-based Bowker. "But since the overall numbers have not yet returned to the level of 2004, it shows the industry is still being cautious about what books they add to their catalogs."

Among the major publishing categories, juvenile title output plunged in the double digits, with the number of new titles dropping to 29,248 in 2006, a sharp decline of 10% from 32,112 released in 2005. That number was 18% lower than the 37,976 juvenile titles released in 2004, putting the two-year output drop at 30%.

"Children's publishers understand that not every book will turn into a 'Harry Potter' series and there are only so many books a young reader will find in the course of a year," explained Michael Norris, senior analyst of Book Publishing Report. "With publishers being forced to take on a proactive role in marketing 'teen' and 'tween' titles with more innovative strategies such as social networking, author blogs and other online initiatives, there are only so many new juvenile books that can be supported."

Adult fiction titles, on the other hand, reversed a slide recorded in previous years by climbing to 42,076 new titles in 2006, a nearly 17% increase from 34,927 new titles produced in 2005.

"Blockbuster books just aren't enough to lift the industry," said Norris. "Recognizing this, publishers are exploiting the market opportunity of producing niche books targeted to small audiences who are passionate about the subject. For example, books on vampires, auto racing and paranormal romance are just a few of the small and vibrant categories out there."

Other noteworthy findings in Bowker's 2006 statistics included the following:

-- Categories that are the most challenged by the emergence of new online
content showed declines in title output for 2006. For example, the number
of new computer books declined by more than 11% from 6,092 in 2005 to 5,498
titles in 2006. Though travel books managed a 4% rise to 5,155 in 2006,
that figure is still down 3% from the 5,304 titles released in 2004.

-- With the cooking category being led more and more by Food Network
icons and national, trusted brand names, the output for the category
dropped 10%, from 3,062 new titles in 2005 to 2,793 in 2006.

-- Among the hottest categories last year were biographies, which
increased by 15% from 8,904 new titles in 2005 to 10,489 in 2006, and
business books, which climbed 12% to 9,006 new titles, up from 7,885 titles
released in 2005.

-- The religious book category recovered from its 2005 free-fall with
17,921 titles released in 2006. This figure is up 6% from the 16,785
titles released in 2005, but still 21% down from the 21,669 religious
titles released in 2004.

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