Wednesday, May 20, 2009

POD takes the lead in the US

Just to prove David Taylor's point (see yesterday's post), for the first time, the number of print on demand titles published in the US has overtaken the number of traditionally printed lithograhic texts, according to bibliographic provider Bowker.

The amount of new books entering the US market decreased in 2008 by 3.2 percent, with a total of 275,232 new titles and editions, down from the 284,370 titles published in 2007. In contrast, Bowker reports that 285,394 'on demand' books were produced last year, representing a 132 percent increase over last year's figure of 123,276 titles. This is the second consecutive year of triple digit growth for the print on demand industry, driven largely by the surge in self publishing. I can see now why Amazon were so keen to expand their own operations.

This represents a huge benchmark for the American publishing industry. Although it remains to be seen whether this is a trend that will continue, I strongly suspect that it will. It would be naive to suggest that this was entirely down to self publishing, as more and more traditional publishers are also embracing POD for their back lists and niche titles, but this is a significiant turning point for the industry that seems so reluctant to accept self published books. It it not easy for such writers here to gain acceptance, and I have had to fight for every inch of press coverage and shelf space that my book has attained, but from what I understand from speaking to American writing friends, things there are even more difficult.

It proves though that print on demand is here to stay, whether the industry likes it or not. It is an undeniable fact that the growth that we see in this sector has been fuelled by the changing dynamics of the market place, with the balance of power shifting from publishers back to the authors. Authors increasingly realise that there is an easier way to market than to go through the endless cycle of submissions and rejections, waiting for that illusive contract, which even if offered, may not offer any more financial renumeration or help with marketing than if you had self published in the first place.

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