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Title output still growing

23 June 2003

Cutbacks in the number of titles being published by big publishers have made no difference to the inexorable rise in the overall number of new books published. In the US this is now around 150,000 books a year. In the UK figures just published by Whitaker show that 125,390 titles were published in 2002, an increase of 5% on the previous year. But this disguises the fact that a smaller number of fiction titles were brought out. There are signs of cutbacks in trade (general) publishing having some effect, as the 11,797 fiction titles are 10% fewer than in the previous year. Independent publishers may be contributing more to the general increase, particularly as a result of the growth in local publishing.

Academic, professional and STM lists accounted for more than half the number of new titles published in 2002. A survey conducted by Book Marketing for the Publishers Association has also shown that students' spending on books has remained constant. This is in spite of fears that photocopying and online delivery of information, added to other pressures on student finance, would affect what students spend on books.

It is ironic that it is so difficult for authors to get their work published at a time when title output it continuing to grow, but these figures may provide the explanation. Trade publishers are cutting back the midlist, particularly fiction, and the growth is coming from academic and professional publishing. So unfortunately it really is harder to get your novel published, but you may be doing quite well if you are an academic or write for a professional market.