Industry Statistics: Looking Behind the Numbers
However, audio books are not reported in the “Trends” report. Healy may be forecasting possible enhancements to the BISG reports when he confirms that anyone interested in projecting the industry’s economic health has to consider the digital medium—not just e-books, but downloadable audio and CDs.
And, of course, neither AAP’s nor BISG’s report shows whether growth is taking place among larger or smaller publishers, or both. For example, Subtext reports that sales of the 12 largest trade publishers grew from $8.4 billion in 2005 to $8.6 billion in 2006. It would be useful to know whether these figures fairly represent the large-
publisher market share (roughly 59 percent to 60 percent) of the database used in BISG’s “Trends,” which reported sales growth during the same period for the total trade sector of from $14 billion to $14.5 billion—which we would know if BISG also provided breakdowns by size of publisher.
Dealing With Industry
In addition to these organizations making ongoing changes to improve data quality, the rapidly transforming nature of the book industry has not, of course, gone unnoticed. Especially for BISG, its broad franchise cries out for a more expressive definition of the enterprises, product lines and distribution channels that define the industry.
It is interesting to observe, incidentally, how trade organizations have been coping with transformative challenges over the years.
The Publishers Marketing Association (PMA) is no more. It is now PMA, The Independent Book Publishers Association. The Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) has morphed into CBA, The Association for Christian Retail. Open eBook Forum (OeBF) has made a clean break to the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), and the Small Press Center in Manhattan is now the New York Center for Independent Publishing (NYCIP).
Well, it may not be time for a name change, but BISG is aware that it needs to evaluate how it defines its boundaries. Healy says, “Even before ‘Book Industry Trends 2007’ came out, the BISG Board decided it was time to do a full strategic review of the program. For example, we need to take a look at reporting nontraditional media. And we are now planning for modifications in the 2008 report,” he says, and a formal announcement regarding any changes will be made later this year.
- American Booksellers Association
- Association of American Publishers
- Book Publishing Report
- Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
- Fordham University
- Independent Publishers Group
- National Association of College Stores
- National Book Network (NBN)
- Nielsen Media Research
- Publishers Weekly
- Simba Information
- The Book Industry Study Group
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.