POD Publishing Posts Triple-Digit Growth
This week, Bowker released 2008 U.S. book publishing statistics, compiled from its Books In Print database. Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker projects that U.S. title output in 2008 decreased by 3.2 percent, with 275,232 new titles and editions, down from the 284,370 that were published in 2007.
The number of print-on-demand (POD) and short-run books produced in 2008, however, increased. Bowker projects that 285,394 POD books were produced last year, a 132-percent increase over last year's total of 123,276 titles. This is the second consecutive year of triple-digit growth in the POD segment, which in 2008 was 462-percent above levels seen as recently as 2006.
"Our statistics for 2008 benchmark an historic development in the U.S. book publishing industry as we crossed a point last year in which on-demand and short-run books exceeded the number of traditional books entering the marketplace," says Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publisher services for the New Providence, N.J.-based Bowker. "It remains to be seen how this trend will unfold in the coming years before we know if we just experienced a watershed year in the book publishing industry, fueled by the changing dynamics of the marketplace and the proliferation of sophisticated publishing technologies, or an anomaly that caused the major industry trade publishers to retrench.
"The statistics from last year are not just an indicator that the industry had a decline in new titles coming to the market, but they're also a reflection of how publishers are getting smarter and more strategic about the specific kinds of books they're choosing to publish," continues Gallagher. "If you look beyond the numbers, you begin to see that 2008 was a pivotal year that benchmarks the changing face of publishing."
Among the major publishing categories, the Education and Business categories experienced significant gains last year, which might suggest publishers were seeking to give consumers more resources for success amidst a challenging job environment. There were 9,510 new education titles introduced in the United States in 2008, up 33 percent from the prior year, and 8,838 new business titles, an increase of 14 percent over 2007 levels.
By contrast, the the Travel, Fiction and Religious categories experienced notable declines. There were 4,817 new travel books introduced last year, down 15 percent from the year before, and 47,541 new fiction titles, a drop of 11 percent from 2007. The Religion category dropped again last year, with 14 percent fewer titles introduced in the United States.
According to Gallagher, the Bowker data reveals that the top five categories for U.S. book production in 2008 were: Fiction (47,541 new titles); Juveniles (29,438); Sociology/Economics (24,423); Religion (16,847); and Science (13,555).