Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Research Ready

Book publishing -- The term publishing means, in the broadest sense, making something publicly known. Usually it refers to the issuing of printed materials, such as books, magazines, periodicals, and the like. There is, however, great latitude of meaning, because publishing has never emerged, and cannot emerge, as a profession completely separate from printing on the one hand and the retailing of printed matter on the other - Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition
At my day job I do a lot of research into different markets and industries in order to understand a product or technology I'm reviewing. I need to establish where the product fits into the marketplace, what its competitors are and who's talking about it. I ran across this report, BOOK PUBLISHERS, by Research and Markets and I had to share since it addresses the publishing industry. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, as a writer you can't just "write" anymore -- you need to be the CEO of your writing career and know how the publishing industry works -- marketing, PR and even finances (ugh your taxes). You need to know where you fit into the publishing industry so that you can sell yourself and your book. 

The US book publishing industry consists of about 2,600 companies with combined annual revenue of about $27 billion. Major companies include John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Scholastic, as well as publishing units of large media companies such as HarperCollins (owned by News Corp); Random House (owned by Bertelsmann); and Simon & Schuster (owned by CBS). The industry is highly concentrated: the top 50 companies generate about 80 percent of revenue.

Demand for books is driven by demographics and is largely resistant to economic cycles. The profitability of individual companies depends on product development and marketing. Large publishers have an advantage in bidding for new manuscripts or authors. Small and midsized publishers can succeed if they focus on a specific subject or market.

Publishers produce books for general reading (adult "trade" books); text, professional, technical, children's, and reference books. Trade books account for 25 percent of the market, textbooks 25 percent, and professional books 20 percent.

About 150,000 new books are published in the US every year; however, most are low-volume products. The number of books produced by major trade publishers and university presses is closer to 40,000.


  1. Wow, what a well of information! This is really interesting to me. (Ok, I know that may make me slightly nerdy...)
    150,000 new books! Even 40,000! I guess I'm not as well-read as I thought!

  2. Faith, I'm a research nerd at heart! Isn't it incredible how many books are published each year? So much to catch up on... Thanks for stopping by.