Bowker, the leading provider of bibliographic information in North America, today released statistics on U.S. book publishing compiled from its Books In Print® database. Based on preliminary figures, Bowker is projecting that U.S. title output in 2004 increased by 14% to 195,000 new titles and editions, reaching another all-time high.
The catalyst for growth in 2004 was adult fiction, which reversed a three-year plateau and increased a staggering 43.1%, to 25,184 new titles and editions, the highest total ever recorded for that category. Adult fiction now accounts for 14% of all titles published in the U.S., the highest proportion since 1961. New poetry and drama titles increased 40.5%.
The number of new titles released by the largest trade houses increased 5.4%, to 24,159, their largest increase since 2001. University presses increased their title output 12.3% to 14,484, reversing a 4.3% decline in 2003. Since 1995, new titles have increased 72% for all U.S. publishers, 22% for the largest trade houses, and 12% for university presses….
"2004 marked a return to pre-9/11 patterns of publishing," said Andrew Grabois, senior director of publisher relations and content development for New Providence, N.J.-based Bowker. "The historic increase in fiction, and the high double-digit growth of the religion, personal development, domestic arts, and travel categories, point to a seismic shift in the marketplace from the political to the personal. Publishers are betting that the reading public, exhausted by four years of terrorism, war, and polarizing presidential elections, will be more than ready for the kind of escapist and self-help fare that seemed trivial and inappropriate in the wake of a national tragedy."
For those of us who make their living writing fiction, the above is particularly encouraging. I had a book that released just before 9/11, and for nearly a year after that, book sales were in the pits. It’s been a tough climb out of that hole.