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Canadian Book Prices Affect Demand – but do Americans Read the Books they Buy?

24 June 2002

Recently-released Books in Print figures from Canada show that the number of titles published annually is still in excess of 50,000, and has been dropping since 1996. This decline is attributed to rising book prices, as book buyers think twice about buying high-priced hardback fiction. Canadians are obviously great readers though, as the country still has the second-highest per capita number of new books published in the world, after the UK, with a new title for every 577 people.

Meanwhile, in the US, Associated Press ran an article on the new book clubs which have been set up as successors to Oprah's Book Club. The first 'Today' show book club asked John Grisham to recommend a first-time novelist's work. He chose Stephen Carter's bestselling The Emperor of Ocean Park, saying: 'I tell people all the time I'm a famous writer in a country where people don't read.' It certainly looks as if it's no longer 'cool ' to admit that you don't read at all, even though some people may be buying more books than they actually get round to reading. From the authors' point of view, the royalties roll in whether people read the books or not, but obviously every writer would like their work to be read.