Sunday, June 8, 2008

U.S. Book Production Flat in 2007

Bowker, the global leader in bibliographic information management, has released statistics on U.S. book publishing for 2007, compiled from its Books In Print database. Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker is projecting that U.S. title output in 2007 increased slightly to 276,649 new titles and editions, up from the 274,416 that were published in 2006.

While traditional book publishing was basically flat last year, there was a staggering rise in the reported number of "On Demand" and short-run books to 134,773, pushing the grand total for projected 2007 U.S. book output to 411,422 books. To maintain the continuity of statistics, Bowker is excluding this output from its traditional reporting and has begun tracking the On Demand industry segment separately.

"Our statistics for 2007 indicate that the book publishing industry has regained its footing since the rough year that many publishers experienced in 2005, when the numbers showed a nearly 9% decline in new titles, but clearly they are still being very selective about which titles they believe have the most promise of achieving commercial success," said Kelly Gallagher, general manager of business intelligence for New Providence, N.J.-based Bowker.

"The most startling development last year is the reporting of 'On Demand' titles, leading to a stunning five-fold increase of new titles in the unclassified category, which mostly consists of reprints of public domain titles and other short-run books," said Gallagher. "It will be interesting to monitor this category in 2008 in order to get a sense of whether this is a sustainable trend or a one-year spike."

Category Winners and Losers

According to Gallagher, among the major publishing categories, the big winners last year were once again Fiction and Literature. There were 50,071 new fiction titles introduced in the U.S. last year, up 17% from 2006, and the number of new titles in the category in 2007 was almost twice what it was as recently as 2002. Similarly, there was a 19% rise in new literature books last year to 9,796, which followed a 31% increase in new literature titles in 2006.

"Adult fiction continues to be a reliable category in the U.S. book publishing industry and one of the niches that a number of publishers have counted on through the peaks and valleys of the past several years," said Gallagher. "On the other hand, it's noteworthy that juvenile title output, which makes up more than one out of every 10 new books introduced into the U.S. market, was down again slightly last year and has now seen steady erosion in each of the last three years since its Harry Potter-influenced peak in 2004."

Moreover, Bowker benchmarked fairly steep declines in the Business and Sociology/Economics categories last year. The number of new business titles fell to 7,651 in 2007, down 12% from 2006, and the number of new sociology/economics books dropped to 24,596, an 11% decline from the prior year. Gallagher noted there were also slight dips in the Religion (down 5% in 2007) and History (down 3%) categories, both of which had experienced double-digit increases in 2006.


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