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Are Too Many Books Being Published?

The February issue of Locus Magazine contains a book summary of 2004. In, it they tally up some interesting statistics about sf/f book publishing; things like number of books published (by year, by publisher), original books vs. reprints, hardcover vs. trade paperback vs. mass market paperback, etc. To get an idea of the numbers, in 2004 there were 2,550 books published. Of those, 1,417 were new and 1,133 were reprints.

The conclusion of the article states that “Publishers are putting out too many books.” They say that publishers seem more interested in quantity than quality and that smaller publishing houses suffer. The big guys, they say, seem to spawn a new imprint to meet a new trend.

What do you think? Are there too many books being published? Surely no one person is reading 2,550 (or even 1,417) books a year! (Insert Klausner Exclusion here.) Should there be fewer reprints to lessen the total? Or does the larger number mean more variety which is, ultimately, a good thing?

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

3 Comments on Are Too Many Books Being Published?

  1. Too Many Books?

    Over at SFSignal, John poses an interesting question. Are too many books being published? Apparently there were some 2,500 odd books published last year, which is quite a lot and it’s been suggested this may be flooding the market.

    I’m inclined to …

  2. Fred Kiesche // February 21, 2005 at 2:52 pm //

    I think that there have been “too many books” for quite a few years. It seemed that we went through something similar in the early 80’s, a slew of new publishers, expansion by existing publishers, lots of fancy trade paperbacks and hardcovers. Things fell apart during the recession we had then.

    I was sure we’d see the same thing in 2002 between 9/11 and the bursting of the internet bubble. Oddly enough, it really hasn’t happened. Small firms complain about big firms, but there are plenty of them out there. On demand publishing have allowed a lot of small firms flourish that wouldn’t have been able to in the past (in a parallel thought, on demand publishing has allowed a lot of small game companies put out decent looking product that would have been pretty shoddy looking brochures in the “dawn ages” of gaming).

    If they put out more books than I can read in a year, then they are putting out “too many books”. On the other hand, I’m not sure if I’d want to go back to the late 60’s when you could count the number of new SF books in the store on the fingers of one hand…heck, you’d be lucky if you had a “real” bookstore in your town, and not just part of one rack at the local drugstore.

  3. Come on! The more books the merrier. Just because you can not humanly read that many books a year, doesn’t mean that there are being too many published. Of the books that are in print is astonishing. Just be thankful that we have suce a vast array of information at our diposal like the stars in our universe.


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