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Bowker Reports Traditional U.S. Book Production Flat in 2009

Nontraditional U.S. Book Production Excels, Traditional Book Production Stalls

There has been an ongoing decrease in fiction, but that has been offset by the high sales of financial and tech books. There also has been exponential growth for on-demand print books, which has driven the production total over one million.

A leading firm for bibliographic information, Bowker, released their accumulated statistics for the pdf to flipbook industry for 2009 on April 14, 2010. Their research has shown that the total output for traditional books in the United States for 2009 has been flat. The exact figures showed a decrease from approximately 289,700 publications the previous year to an estimated 288,300 for the year 2009. The big winner for 2009 is nontraditional books.

Nontraditional books are different in that they are marketed through digital mediums mostly and usually are on-demand reprints of works available in the public domain or self-publishing authors working on “micro-niche” topics. There were a total of 764,448 books published that fit this definition according to Bowkers. That is over 180% over the previous year, which meant an industry-first. Book publication was over one million units, a first as well as a watershed moment for the industry.

In addition, Kelly Gallagher, publishing services vice president for Bowker, further went on to say that the industry had changed dramatically. She stated that nontraditional publishing, particularly the books that were on-demand prints, showed the most promise and growth for the industry. The last three years showed that the rising popularity of these books was a trend that was not on the decline, but rather accelerating.

The advancement of knowledge versus leisurely reading as accurate indicators of winners and losers

There have been some big changes in the categories used by major publishers, which is evidence that companies knew the economy was still having a negative effect on growth. The genres of books that did well were educational and focused on career training and budgeting. The following are the percentage increases and decreases for their respective genres.

Science books grew by nine percent, technology books increased by eleven percent, and personal budgeting and finance increased by nine percent. On the declining side were mostly topics of leisure, including cookery and foreign languages, down sixteen percent, and travel, down five percent. Fiction books saw a whopping fifteen percent decline as well, and that is about on par with the previous year’s dismal performance, continuing the downward trend.

Even more troubling is the fact that fiction had expanded four categories out of the five most popular categories to mitigate contraction, but it still could not positively affect the growth of the genre for the year.