The production of traditional books rose 1% in 2007, to 276,649 new titles and editions, but the output of on-demand, short run and unclassified titles soared from 21,936 in 2006 to 134,773 last year, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by R.R. Bowker. The combination of the two categories results in a 39% increase in output to 411,422. Although it has tracked production of on-demand titles in the past, this is the first year the company has broken out the segment to better show the differences in the traditional categories (such as biography, fiction, juvenile) and the on-demand segment.
This is great for readers since many books that would otherwise be out-of-print can still be available. It is a mixed blessing for authors, however.
On the one hand, obviously, it makes it easier for authors to get their books in print on their own or through a publisher that specializes in print-on-demand books. On the other hand, it increases the competition and makes it more difficult for any particular book to get noticed and have significant sales. As I’ve mentioned here before, it creates a new reality that increases the burden on authors (whether published traditionally or not) to promote, market and get the word out on their books. Publishers can do a lot in these areas, but in this new environment the author’s job has only begun when the book is published.