US book production tops one million
14.04.10 | Philip Jones

Book production in the US topped one million titles for the first time ever in 2009, despite the stagnant economy. The growth was fueled by another year of extraordinary growth in self-publishing and on-demand books, up 181% year-on-year and by a staggering 2242% since 2002.

The figures, produced annually by Bowker, showed that title output by traditional publishers was virtually unchanged, with the number of new titles and editions down by less than half a percent, from 289,729 in 2008 to a projected 288,355 in 2009. Within this sector fiction saw a second year of decline — down 15%, significantly greater than its 1% loss in 2008 — taking the shine off increases in children’s titles, business and sociology books, religious texts and science books.

Bowker projected that 764,448 titles were produced that fall outside its traditional publishing and classification definitions. This number was a 181% increase over 2008 — which itself was double 2007’s output. Bowker said the books were “largely on-demand titles produced by reprint houses specializing in public domain works and by presses catering to self-publishers and ‘micro-niche’ publications”.

Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services at Bowker, said that the flat traditional numbers showed that that the “weak economy is still having an adverse effect in what and how much consumers are willing to purchase”, but added that “non-traditional publishing, especially related to print-on-demand, continues to offer new avenues and opportunities to grow the publishing industry”.

The data also identified BiblioBazaar (272,930), Books LLC (224,460) and Kessinger Publishing, LLC (190,175) as the top self-publishers.

Earlier this year, Nielsen Book released its own figures for the UK market, showing that UK publishers produced more than 133,000 titles during 2009 – an increase of 3.2% on the previous 12 months – hitting the highest output for a single year ever.

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