Some amazing numbers, some bad news in this press release from Bowker.
English-Speaking Countries Published 375,000 New Books Worldwide in 2004
According to Bowker, publishers in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand released 375,000 new titles and editions in 2004. Anglo-American publishers published 80% of all new English-language books in 2004, while the U.S. alone accounted for 52% of the total. Including imported editions available in multiple markets, the total number of new English language books available for sale in the English-speaking world in 2004 was a staggering 450,000.
Adult fiction, poetry, drama and literary criticism accounted for 18% of all new English-language books available for sale in 2004, an increase of 21% over 2003; children’s and young adult titles had a 12% share of new titles and editions, a 33% increase; science and technology, combined for a 9% share of new books in 2004, which was a 9% decrease from 2003; and computer books continued their long, post-1990s decline, holding on to 3% of new books published last year, a 14% decrease from 2003, and a 32% drop-off since 2001.
The English-speaking countries remain relatively inhospitable to translations into English from other languages. In all, there were only 14,440 new translations in 2004, accounting for a little more than 3% of all books available for sale.
"The good news is that English language publishers, powered by the prolific U.S. publishing industry, produced 40% of all new book content in the world," said Michael Cairns, president of New Providence, NJ-based Bowker. "The bad news is that recent growth in new title output has been driven by increases in "soft" categories like adult fiction, religion and children’s books. The precipitous decline of science and technology books last year alongside the five-year burst in the computer books bubble is troubling and does not augur well for the ability of the English-speaking countries to innovate and compete in the future."
For the U.S., according to Andrew Grabois, a consultant for Bowker, the declines in "hard" categories could have dire consequences, not only for the ability of its young people to compete in an increasingly flat world, but also for the ability of its publishers to draw on a large enough pool of talent to produce high quality technical books at reasonable cost.