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Book Publishing Market Saw Steady Title Growth in 2011

June 5, 2012
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ—June 5, 2012—Bowker, the global leader in bibliographic information, released its annual report on U. S. print book publishing for 2011, compiled from its Books In Print database. Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, the company is projecting that traditional print book output grew six percent in 2011, from 328,259 titles in 2010 to a projected 347,178 in 2011, driven almost exclusively by a strong self-publishing market.

That total represent the most significant expansion in more than four years for America’s traditional publishing sector, but removing self-publishing from the equation would show that the market is relatively flat from 2010.

“Transformation of our industry has brought on a time of rich innovation in the publishing models we now have today. What was once relegated to the outskirts of our industry—and even took on demeaning names like ‘vanity press’ is now not only a viable alternative but what is driving the title growth of our industry today,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice president, Bowker Market Research. “From that standpoint, self-publishing is a true legitimate power to be reckoned with. Coupled with the explosive growth of eBooks and digital content—these two forces are moving the industry in dramatic ways.”

Genres that contributed to the robust growth in the traditional sector include education, with a hefty 20 percent increase, music and philosophy/psychology (both up 14 percent), religion (up 12 percent), and the juveniles, biography and business sectors, which all increased by 11 percent. Fiction—the largest genre—turned around a multiyear decline with a notable 13 percent increase.

Conversely, “unclassified” books, which comprise mostly reprint/POD houses specializing in public domain works marketed almost exclusively on the Web, ended a years-long streak of triple-digit growth, declining 69 percent in 2011 from 2010. The reprint/POD sector accounts for the largest ISBN output—more than 1.1 million in 2011 alone—and as a result, drove an overall decline in print book output of 63 percent. Audiobooks and eBooks are excluded.

“It’s important to look at these numbers in the context of the last several years,” said Gallagher. “The last few years of reprint/POD output has shown explosive growth that was simply not sustainable. Despite this year’s decline, the output from this sector is still up about 15 percent over 2009. It continues to be a vibrant sector of the market.” 
 

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