1. The number of books being published every year has exploded.
According to the latest Bowker Report (October 9, 2013), over 391,000 books were self-published in the U.S. in 2012, which is an amazing increase of 422 percent since 2007. The number of non-self-published books issued annually has also climbed over the same period to approximately 300,000 in 2012. The net effect is that the number of new books published each year in the U.S. has exploded by more than 400,000 since 2007, to approximately 700,000 annually. And since 2007, nearly 10 million previously published books have been reissued by companies that reprint public domain works. Unfortunately, the marketplace is not able to absorb all these books and is hugely oversaturated.
2. Book industry sales are declining, despite the explosion of books published.
Adult nonfiction print unit book sales peaked in 2007 and have declined each year since then, according to BookScan (Publishers Weekly, January 6, 2014, and previous reports). Similarly, bookstore sales peaked in 2007 and have fallen each year since then, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (Publishers Weekly, February 12, 2014, and previous reports).
3. Despite the growth of e-book sales, overall book sales are still shrinking.
After skyrocketing from 2008 to 2012, e-book sales leveled off in 2013. Unfortunately, the decline of print sales outpaced the growth of e-book sales, even from 2008 to 2012. According to BookStats data reported by the Association of American Publishers (May 15, 2013), revenues in the entire U.S. book publishing marketplace fell again in 2012, to $27.1 billion. The total book publishing pie is not growing—the peak was hit in 2007—yet it is being divided among ever more hundreds of thousands of digital and print books.
Although Harvard Business Review articles have been included in the journal aggregator EBSCO since 2000, as of August 1 the publisher began blocking full access to the 500 most popular articles, meaning students and professors can no longer download, print, or link directly to them. Harvard has long asserted that a digital library subscription cannot substitute for the separate licenses and fees involved when the articles are assigned in courses. Yet it says it has encountered widespread abuse of that policy, with professors referring students to the digital subscriptions. To restore the linking ability, some of the largest business-school libraries have received quotes of roughly $200,000 annually—a number the publisher, a nonprofit subsidiary of Harvard University, confirms—although the press says the average quote is below $10,000. Alternatively, business schools can pay for journal articles that are assigned in class on an à-la-carte basis or under various “umbrella” plans. Those latter arrangements have long existed. (Some business schools already have expansive licensing arrangements with Harvard that mean they are unaffected.)
This battle seems now to increase in intensity. Will the publishers kill the libraries in their battle to retain or increase their revenues? Regardless if they lose academics as their customers and producers of content and push them do more illegal copying as well as use P2P solutions, or win them and build stronger bond to them, academic libraries will have a difficult time finding their role in between.
The publishing industry had the luxury of sitting back and watching everything that happened to the music industry and they learned almost nothing. They had 10 years to watch record stores vanish, the rise and fall of Napster, the felling of empires (hello, Mr. Bronfman!), downloading, the rise of the indie artist, the uptick in touring, everything, all of it happened to a comparable industry a decade earlier and the publishing industry…dithered. They watched what happened to Hollywood and the video industry and they…dithered. A collective Nero playing the violin.
Academics are starting to boycott a big publisher of journals
But if the boycott continues to grow, things could become more urgent. After all, publishers need academics more than academics need publishers. And incumbents often look invulnerable until they suddenly fall. Beware, then, the Academic spring.
Apple is slated to announce the fruits of its labor on improving the use of technology in education at its special media event on Thursday, January 19. While speculation has so far centered on digital textbooks, sources close to the matter have confirmed to Ars that Apple will announce tools to help create interactive e-books—the “GarageBand for e-books,” so to speak—and expand its current platform to distribute them to iPhone and iPad users.
Now I am becoming really curious about this…
It turns out that tech companies — especially Apple and Amazon — are the new publishers. And this is, of course, because their technology disintermediates all the component steps required for a physical book. We have all seen the numbers about the growth of e-books and how every category is impinging on the traditional book categories.
Self-publishing: it’s exploding in popularity, we all know that, with self-published authors selling millions via Amazon’s Kindle, pushing traditionally published authors out of the top spots on new ebook charts, etc etc. But did you know that self-publishing websites are attracting more than 40% of all China’s internet users every month? I didn’t, and I am reeling, a little, from the statistic.
These aren’t Authonomy-esque, publish-and-be-encouraged-by-fellow-writers sorts of sites, though, or even collections of self-published novels. The websites host what is being dubbed “freemium” publishing. Publishing Perspectives has more details: a growing number of self-publishing websites host thousands of free-to-read web serials – anything from historical epics to sci-fi – posted by their authors. As a serial gathers critical mass, the author is invited to become a “VIP”, and readers have to pay for the new instalments – only a few yuan, but these micropayments from readers can number in the millions: China Daily reports that one author, the 26-year-old Huang Wei, makes more than more than Y1m a year (£100,000).
“It’s pure entertainment, written, downloaded, read and deleted all at top speed,” says Beijing-based literary translator and publishing consultant Eric Abrahamsen, who also writes for the Chinese publishing industry newsletter Paper Republic. “Basically all of this writing is genre fiction. It is produced by young writers and aimed at young readers.”
» via The Guardian
Considering the global impact of any innovation anywhere on the planet it is important to keep track of these kind of seemingly odd phenomena. Who knows where this idea will spread tomorrow…