More Book Publishing by the Numbers

The Association of American Publishers came out with its first report from Bookstats  today. It is the new method adopted by the book industry to analyze its sales. The previous methods were so flawed in methodology that no one in the industry took them very seriously. We hope that the statistics being offered by this  new methodology are more robust. There is a good analysis of the new numbers in Publishers Marketplace    today.

The new statistics show that trade publishing grew modestly between 2008-2010, about 4.5% in units. Both adult fiction and non-fiction grew 3.5%. Juveniles fared better with a growth of 7.1%.

 The analysis in Publishers Marketplace was considerably less positive. In removing the category of religious books from the equation (a category where there was considerable growth), the remainder of trade publishing declined slightly, even considering the exponential growth of e-books.

 The statistics on e-books themselves were surprising. With all the buzz about them, and with the constant drumbeat  by publishers, media commentators and gurus, one would think that book publishing had been hijacked by this new format. Previous AAP estimates were showing e-book sales of 20%. I spoke with a number of editors at the large trade publishers who told me that their own sales in e-books were reaching 20% or even higher in some months. The new figures from Bookstats tell a different story. They show e-book sales growing from an infinitesimal  .6% in 2008 to 6.4% in 2010. Clearly e-book sales from the smaller publishers are considerably less than the majors. The statistics do not include self-published e-books which now number in the tens of millions. Still the growth in e-book sales is continuing unabated. The future seems to belong to them.

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