October 6, 2015

Bowker Releases 2011 U.S. Book Publishing Market Statistics & New Book Output Chart (by ISBN)

From Bowker:

Bowker [has] released its annual report on U. S. print book publishing for 2011, compiled from its Books In Print database. 
Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker is projecting that traditional print book output grew six percent in 2011, from 328,259 titles in 2010 to a projected 347,178 in 2011, driven almost exclusively by a strong self-publishing market. This is the most significant expansion in more than four years for America’s traditional publishing sector, but removing self-publishing from the equation would show that the market is relatively flat from 2010.

“Transformation of our industry has brought on a time of rich innovation in the publishing models we now have today. What was once relegated to the outskirts of our industry—and even took on demeaning names like ‘vanity press’ is now not only a viable alternative but what is driving the title growth of our industry today,” said Kelly Gallagher, Vice-President, Bowker Market Research. “From that standpoint, self-publishing is a true legitimate power to be reckoned with. Coupled with the explosive growth of e-books and digital content – these two forces are moving the industry in dramatic ways.”

Genres that contributed to the robust growth in the Traditional sector include Education, with a hefty 20 percent increase, Music and Philosophy & Psychology (both up 14 percent), Religion (up 12 percent), and Juveniles, Biography, and Business, which all increased by 11 percent.  Publishing mainstay Fiction – the largest genre – turned around a multi-year decline with a notable 13 percent increase.

Conversely, “Unclassified” books, which comprise mostly Reprint/POD houses specializing in public domain works marketed almost exclusively on the web, ended a years-long streak of triple digit growth, declining 69 percent in 2011 from 2010.  The Reprint/POD sector accounts for the largest ISBN output – more than 1.1 million in 2011 alone — and as a result, drove an overall decline in print book output of 63 percent. Audiobooks and e-books are excluded.

“It’s important to look at these numbers in the context of the last several years,” said Mr. Gallagher. “The last few years of Reprint/POD output has shown explosive growth that was simply not sustainable. Despite this year’s decline, the output from this sector is still up about 15 percent over 2009. It continues to be a vibrant sector of the market.”  

Overall, publishing output is dominated by a handful of large Reprint/POD houses. In fact the top three – Bibliobazaar, General Books and VDM Verlag — accounted for over 71% of the total yearly output in 2011. The largest POD publisher was Bibliobazaar with 773,857 ISBNs.   

Publisher               ISBNs


General Books LLC


VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller e.K.




International Business Publications, USA


Kessinger Publishing, LLC




Literary Licensing, LLC


Xlibris Corporation


2002-2011 ISBN Output Chart (via Bowker)

Chart is also available here (1 page; PDF)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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