Major new survey shows conventional publishing is doing just fine

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HapiSofi

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Today in the New York Times:
The publishing industry has expanded in the past three years as Americans increasingly turned to e-books and juvenile and adult fiction, according to a new survey of thousands of publishers, retailers and distributors that challenges the doom and gloom that tends to dominate discussions of the industry’s health.

BookStats, a comprehensive survey conducted by two major trade groups that was released early Tuesday, revealed that in 2010 publishers generated net revenue of $27.9 billion, a 5.6 percent increase over 2008. Publishers sold 2.57 billion books in all formats in 2010, a 4.1 percent increase since 2008.

The Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group collaborated on the report and collected data from 1,963 publishers, including the six largest trade publishers. The survey encompassed five major categories of books: trade, K-12 school, higher education, professional and scholarly.

“We’re seeing a resurgence, and we’re seeing it across all markets -- trade, academic, professional,” said Tina Jordan, the vice president of the Association of American Publishers. “In each category we’re seeing growth. The printed word is alive and well whether it takes a paper delivery or digital delivery.”

Higher education was especially strong, selling $4.55 billion in 2010, up 18.7 percent in three years, a trend that Ms. Jordan suggested could be traced to the expansion of two-year and community colleges and the inclination to return to school during a rough economy.

Sales of trade books grew 5.8 percent to $13.9 billion, fueled partly by e-books, the report said. Juvenile books, which include the current young-adult craze for paranormal and dystopian fiction, grew 6.6 percent over three years.

One of the strongest growth areas was adult fiction, which had a revenue increase of 8.8 percent over three years.

E-books were another bright spot, thanks to the proliferation and declining cost of e-reading devices like the Nook by Barnes & Noble and Amazon’s Kindle, and the rush by publishers to digitize older books.

In 2008 e-books were 0.6 percent of the total trade market; in 2010, they were 6.4 percent. Publishers have seen especially robust e-book sales in genre fiction like romance, mystery and thrillers, as well as literary fiction. In 2010, 114 million e-books were sold, the report said.

The survey does not include sales data from 2011, a year of substantial e-book growth.​
Once again, reports of the death of conventional publishing have been greatly exaggerated. And while it's true that far more people are buying and reading ebooks, the vast majority of the books they're buying are the same ones they would previously have been buying in hardcopy editions from bookstores.

Since so much "imminent death of conventional publishing" material gets quoted in the self-publishing subforums, I thought I'd throw this into the mix.
 
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Thanks, Hapi. Interesting and informative.
 

Medievalist

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I note that my exceedingly conventional publishers have been happily selling both print and ebooks for about 10 years.
 

Anne Lyle

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The more books there are around, the better the chances of people becoming voracious readers once they find something they like. If free/cheap ebooks encourage people to read more and thus venture into bookshops or spend money on more expensive commercially published books, everyone wins.

It's the same reason I recommend the novels of writers like Mark Chadbourn and Lynn Flewelling, because people who like their books are likely to enjoy mine and vice versa. You're not competing against other authors for the dollars of voracious readers, because books just aren't that expensive.
 

RexJameson

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I honestly have no idea why anyone would believe that mainstream publishing would perish. Even if the Big 6 were to suddenly fold (and this is in no way likely), the publishers that harnessed the market the best will then become the new mainstream.

The format might eventually change to ebooks, but that does not mean that the majority of sales will be self-publishers. Anyone who makes that connection directly is on a slippery slope. Ereaders and ebooks will hopefully drive demand, as ebooks are simply easier to transport and use, and mainstream publishing has the resources to really exploit and drive this market further. Self-publishing is an option. I see practically no possibility of it ever eradicating mainstream publishing.
 

tim290280

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I honestly have no idea why anyone would believe that mainstream publishing would perish. Even if the Big 6 were to suddenly fold (and this is in no way likely), the publishers that harnessed the market the best will then become the new mainstream.

The format might eventually change to ebooks, but that does not mean that the majority of sales will be self-publishers. Anyone who makes that connection directly is on a slippery slope. Ereaders and ebooks will hopefully drive demand, as ebooks are simply easier to transport and use, and mainstream publishing has the resources to really exploit and drive this market further. Self-publishing is an option. I see practically no possibility of it ever eradicating mainstream publishing.
This has been my thinking too. Big businesses don't disappear from an industry so much as the individual businesses either evolve or are replaced. E-books aren't new, but the market place for them is. So we are seeing an adaptation period.

What I do see having to happen is a change in business models. The readers and writers command more leverage now than previously. It will be interesting to see how this works for the midlist authors once the dust settles.
 
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