MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Friday, April 30, 2010

TOO MANY SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS GLUT THE MARKET

Self-Published Titles Topped 764,000 in 2009 as Traditional Output Dipped

Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 4/14/2010 9:22:53 AM

A staggering 764,448 titles were produced in 2009 by self-publishers and micro-niche publishers, according to statistics released this morning by R.R. Bowker. The number of "nontraditional" titles dwarfed that of traditional books whose output slipped to 288,355 last year from 289,729 in 2008. Taken together, total book output rose 87% last year, to over 1 million books.

Among the traditional titles, fiction remained the largest segment, although output fell 15%, to 45,181 titles, marking the second consecutive year that fiction production declined. The nonfiction segments were mixed with growth coming in educational and practical areas such as technology (up 11%), science, and personal finance (both up 9%). Categories that depend more on discretional spending fell with the production of cookery and language titles falling the most at 16% each. The travel and sports and recreation segments had declines of 5% and 4%, respectively. Other major categories where output rose included children's, up 6%, to 32,348, biography, up 8% to 12,313, and religion, up 6% to 19,310.

Changes in growth rates in the traditional book segments, however, were overshadowed by the explosive gains posted by what Bowker calls the unclassified titles. The category consists largely of reprints, including those of public domain titles, plus other titles that are produced using print-on-demand production. According to Bowker, the largest producer of nontraditional books last year was BiblioBazaar which produced 272,930 titles, followed by Books LLC and Kessinger Publishing LLC which produced 224,460 and 190,175 titles, respectively. The Amazon subsidiary CreateSpace produced 21,819 books in 2009, while Lulu.com released 10,386. Xlibris and AuthorHouse, two imprints of AuthorSolutions, produced 10,161 and 9,445, title respectively. In something of an understatement, Kelly Gallagher, v-p of publishing services for Bowker, said that given the exceptional gains in the nontraditional segment the last three years, growth in that area "show[s] no signs of abating."

http://www.publishersweekly.com

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