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Boom in number of books published

9 May 2011

Readers of this column may be tiring of all the talk about ebooks, but it should be said in our defence that the news has been full of nothing else for many weeks now. Take comfort however, because in the midst of this obsessive concentration on digital developments, publishing - and writing - is still going on as normal. The existing business of publishing is still just as keen to spot the promising new writers and to bag them before their competitors do. The only thing that's changed, perhaps for good, is that it's harder to get published if your book is what used to be called 'midlist', as what publishers want is books which will sweep straight into the bestseller lists.

A major trend at present is the increase in the number of books published and in the number of publishers in the UK, which have shown 3,151 new publishers registering for an ISBN, the highest number in ten years.

The Nielsen 2010 book output shows that 151,969 new titles were published last year, a big increase of 14 % from the previous year. The figure is based on the number of ISBNs issued by Nielsen over the year. Since 2001 the number of titles published has risen by 40%

In the US the latest figures from Bowker are for 2009 and show that more than one million titles were published. The US figures give the clue to the extraordinary growth in the number of titles: self-published and on-demand books were up by 181% year-on-year, a staggering 2,242% increase since 2002.

In the UK self-publishing increases have added to the total and there is also the large number of digital versions of books to be contended with, as every new edition of a book, whether hardback, paperback or ebook, has to have a new ISBN.

Self-publishing is booming and, for the first time, authors feel they have an alternative means of getting their book to readers. It should not be undertaken lightly, but if you are an author who has been trying without success to find an agent to take you on, or to get a publisher to look at your work, it is a chance to try out the market.

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