Books, As Far As the Eye Can See!

Today Bowker, the U.S. ISBN agency, released a report that shows a 14% increase in the number of titles published for 2004. But who’s reading all these books? Lately, there has been a lot of talk about how many people are simply reading fewer books and last week the Book Industry Study Group reported that the number of books sold in the U.S. has dropped — 44 million fewer books sold in 2004 than in 2003. So what’s the deal? We obviously love literature and books here at LitKicks, but what do you think about these reports? Is this a reflection of the boom in self-publishing and print on demand? Are these meaningful numbers or are we missing something? Are we really reading less? Are we just lazy? Bored? Should we blame the publishing industry for producing too many books it’s just so hard to choose? Or should we blame them for failing to give us anything we’d find interesting? Maybe we are just reading more online, so we should blame the internet … or maybe we’re just saving up our book buying frenzy for the next installment of the Harry Potter franchise, so we could blame Ms. Rowling. We could always blame it on the economy or, as Milli Vanilli offered, we could blame it on the rain. What’s a person to do? I guess just brush it off and get started on those summer reading lists.

3 Responses

  1. According to NPRA radio
    According to NPR

    A radio feature on National Public Radio said that more books are being published in the United States than ever before in history. They said one of the reasons is that publishers’ strategy is to put out a large number of books, hoping that a few of them will hit big. The person on the radio compared it to throwing spagetti at the wall to see what will stick. If that is true, it verifies what many of us have suspected for a long time: Most publishers don’t know any more than you or me what will sell.

    They did not mention self-publishing, but I’m guessing that is another factor in the number of books out there. People used to think that if you were a good writer, a big company would notice you and print your book. They thought the same thing about musicians. “If they are such a good band, why aren’t they on a major label?”

    We know now that people who run big companies are just human beings like us, and whoever is reading this has as valid an opinion as any big company.

  2. The ol’ spaghetti theory —
    The ol’ spaghetti theory — but who’s going to clean all of it?

    Thanks for mentioning the story you heard and offering your take on this one, Bill.

  3. I would think our opinions
    I would think our opinions might even be a little better informed than some publisher, after all we’re in the trenches buying & seeing what’s in the stores, while actually they try to make as much quick money as possible, but you know quick money is like heroin you have enough now, but in the next season you need to fix that supply again. Whereas Max Perkins & all the famous authors he signed (i.e Hemingwy, Fitzgerald, Wolfe)are still paying the bills!

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!