NEW PROVIDENCE, N.J. -- Bowker, a bibliographic information agency, released a report this week that shows book publishing in the U.S. decreased 18 percent in 2005 to 172,000 new titles and editions -- marking the country’s first decline since 1999. The statistics, based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, were compiled from Bowker’s Books In Print database, a comprehensive listing of more than 6 million U.S. book, audiobook and video titles.
The U.S.’s decrease allowed for Great Britain to assume the top spot as the world’s leader in English-language publishing, with the U.K.’s 206,000 new books in 2005 representing a 28-percent increase. The U.S.’s decline was only its 10th in the last 50 years.
Small to mid-sized publishers saw the sharpest plummets, with output from the smallest publishers falling by more than 7 percent. Small-to-medium publishers declined by 10 percent, and medium-to-large publishers produced 15 percent fewer titles than in 2004.
“In 2005, publishers were more cautious and disciplined when it came to their lists,” said Gary Aiello, Bowker’s chief operating officer. “We see that trend continuing in 2006. The price of paper has already gone up twice this year, and publishers, especially the small ones, will have to think very carefully about what to publish.”
Both general adult fiction and children’s books saw double-digit declines, but sports and recreation led all categories with a 22-percent increase in new titles.
“The sudden and steep drop in the number of new books published in the U.S. last year was surprising,” said Andrew Grabois, a Bowker consultant. “Yet 2005’s book output was the second highest total of new books ever recorded, after 2004’s record year.”