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Laer Carroll
02-03-2016, 05:53 AM
Locus Magazine is familiar to a lot of us in this forum. For those not, it's a monthly magazine published since the late '60s about happenings in the world of SF, fantasy, and horror. It includes a couple of interviews or guest articles each month, mostly by authors, occasionally by editors and publishers. It has a couple dozen review articles a month, often covering several books. And it has lots of news. The section I like most is about books sold or delivered, which helps me keep an eye out for them.

http://www.locusmag.com/Magazine/

On February 1st each year it also includes an extensive overview of SF/F/H publishing in the previous year. This has lots of statistics: numbers of books published, their breakdowns by genre, new or reprint, hardback or trade paperback or mass-market paperback, by publisher, and so on. For the last few years they've grappled with ebooks, but that's a tough market to get numbers on. So far they're still struggling.

The amount of data is overwhelming. Here are a few things I discovered, and you should take them with a grain of salt. Partly because I'm imperfect, partly because Locus is. Getting information about some parts of the publishing world is hard. My guess is their numbers are maybe 10% low, but it's just a guess.
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The number of SF/F/H books published each year has gone upward, from about 1000 in 1981 to 3000 in 2011. It dropped for the next three years but rebounded last year to 2625.

That's from 318 publishers, including about a hundred micropresses. The "Big 5" accounted for 1030 of those books, but there's a big middle ground of medium-sized publishers who put out several dozen books each.

Reprint numbers were about 70% the size of new book numbers. Until the mid-2000s when the new titles began to pull ahead and reprints drop. Last year there were 1820 new titles, 805 reprints.

Until around 2000 the number of SF and fantasy books were about even. Then the number of fantasy titles began to increase. Today they outnumber SF about 2 to 1.

The genre numbers (adult & YA) are

682 fantasy
396 SF
183 horror
111 paranormal romance

Urban fantasy, though it often has a romance subplot, is included in fantasy. In paranormal romance the romance is the main plot.

If you want to get a copy of Locus Magazine go to the following web site.
http://www.locusmag.com/Magazine/Digital.html

Roxxsmom
02-03-2016, 06:42 AM
I find Locus to be quite interesting, though the market information is really hard to crunch in my head sometimes. My year-end issue hasn't arrived yet, and I haven't wandered over to their web site.




The number of SF/F/H books published each year has gone upward, from about 1000 in 1981 to 3000 in 2011. It dropped for the next three years but rebounded last year to 2625.

That's quite an increase. Is there a particular genre or subgenre that's accounted for this in particular?


Until around 2000 the number of SF and fantasy books were about even. Then the number of fantasy titles began to increase. Today they outnumber SF about 2 to 1.

The genre numbers (adult & YA) are

682 fantasy
396 SF
183 horror
111 paranormal romance



This suggests that fantasy is responsible for most of the jump in sales since 2000, except at 1372 total, it also looks like there's a big drop in total numbers since last year's 2625 books published in the genres (as mentioned above). What might account for such large year-to year fluctuations? A decline in popularity of a previously hot genre like UF? Mergers between publishers? Big publishers becoming more cautious about purchases due to things like puppygate making them unsure of where the markets might be going? Death of a large number of smaller presses?

Laer Carroll
02-03-2016, 07:38 AM
... What might account for ...?

Old Hack might know. I generally depend on her for wisdom about publishing.

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?2860-Old-Hack

My GUESS is that the slide in the number of SF/F/H titles for the few years before last is a general industry-wide phenomenon, maybe affecting fiction more than non-fiction. But just a guess.

Too, all the numbers are for print publishing. Locus freely admits it's still in the dark about epublishing. Which is sort of like Dark Matter - does mysterious things but we can't see it!

PeteMC
02-03-2016, 12:41 PM
What would be interesting to know is whether total sales of genre books increase in line with the number of titles published, or if sales across the genre remain relatively flat but are spread thinner over more books. I've no idea where to look for the data though.