Non-Traditional Books Lead Industry's Growth

Interesting release from Bowker—the folks who watch all things publishing.

Book Stack
Book Stack

Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker projects traditional U.S. title output in 2009 was virtually unchanged —BUT— the big driver in '09 were “non-traditional” books.

These so-called "non-traditional" books are marketed almost exclusively on the web and are largely those on-demand titles produced by reprint houses specializing in public domain works and by presses catering to self-publishers and "micro-niche" publications.

The production of print-on-demand books first surpassed traditional book publishing in 2008 and they've been on fire ever since.

Bowker reports these titles are now more than twice the output of traditional titles and only a handful of publishers dominate the market. “These companies are opening up new publishing venues by producing titles for very niche markets and also bringing public domain titles back to life. The net effect creates a long-tail that has no end,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services for New Providence, N.J.-based Bowker.

Ok, so we're reading, but take a look at what we're reading:

Categories that grew tended to be those that could help readers in the workplace or those looking for what I call, "economic survival guides." For example, output increased in technology (+11%), science (+9%) and personal finance (+9).

Losers—cookery and language titles each declined 16% and travel continued its year over year decline, down 5% in 2009 (it took a 10% loss in 2008).

Fiction titles also saw a second year of decline—down 15%.

Top Book Production Categories

1. Fiction 45,181 53,058
2. Juveniles 32,348 29,825
3. Sociology/Economics 25,992 24,737
4. Religion 19,310 18,296
5. Science 15,428 14,100
Success in Print-on-Demand production is concentrated

And as for those few who are doing so much - here's the list of those publishers who are dominating the "non-traditional" market.

Top Publishers by Title Output in 2009

Books LLC 224,460
Kessinger Publishing, LLC 190,175
CreateSpace 21,819
GeneralBooks LLC 11,887 10,386
Xlibris Corporation 10,161
AuthorHouse 9,445
International Business Publications, USA 8,271
PublishAmerica, Incorporated 5,698

To read the full report, download the full statistics report here.

Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks