book publishing statistics

Book Publishing Statistics

Ann O'Brien

July 11, 2022

Writers often aim to become published but don’t know where to start. Authors can either go the route of the traditional publishing industry or they can choose to self-publish their books. Choosing which direction to pursue when publishing a book, especially for new authors, can be complex and confusing. And knowing the truth of what is happening in both can help writers select the best avenue for their own writing. So let’s look at some of the most significant book publishing statistics for both the traditional and the self-publishing industries.

Getting Your Book Published Has Changed in Recent Years

One note to consider within the realm of book publishing is that the whole industry has changed in the last few years. With the rising popularity of self-publishing online, authors have begun to seek out non-traditional publishing routes. Before the early 2000s, authors were relegated to relying on sending manuscripts off to traditional publishing houses in hopes of one of them picking up their writing for publication. While this option still exists, self-publication online is now a viable option for every author. Companies like Publishing Xpress make the self-publication of almost any kind of book possible, something that authors of past eras could only dream of.

Traditional Publishing Industry: Less Appealing Now Than in the Past

Large traditional publishing houses have been the standard pathway to becoming a published author. But in the past decades with more options becoming widely available to authors, the appeal of traditional publishing has diminished. The trend of self-publication in book publishing statistics has disrupted the formerly-solid traditional publishing marketplace by allowing authors to decide what gets published instead of editors at huge publishing houses. So how much has the industry changed?

0.9% Growth in 2019 over 2018

Year over year industry comparisons give a good idea of how dynamic the industry currently is. Rather than showing growth or industry expansion, the traditional publishing industry demonstrated less than 1% of growth in 2019, indicating that the peak in the industry in 2007 and its stagnation afterward are not just a brief trend. The slowdown in growth suggests that the traditional publishing route has become less appealing to authors.

 Almost 70K Jobs in the Industry Have Been Shed Since 2014

The reduction in the workforce in traditional publishing further reveals the shrinking of the trade publishing industry. Instead of healthier maintenance or growth of jobs, the downward trend for those involved in the traditional publishing world suggests that the industry is contracting. While authors who have books published through this pathway may not be greatly affected by this downward trend in publishing industry statistics, new authors may feel the effects of fewer eyes available to pursue new authors.

Yearly Book Sales Fell 27%

Recent publishing industry statistics show that between 2019 and 2018, print book sales were down 27%. This slowdown also mirrors the general downward industry sales trends between 2014 and 2019, the last year sales were evaluated pre-pandemic. In 2021, bookstore book sales rose but speculation that the pandemic fueled that unexpected trajectory change doesn’t indicate a reversal of yearly book sales trends. The first quarter of 2022 now evaluated shows a decline of 8.7% in sales in comparison to 2019, furthering the clear downward trend of book sales.

Self-Publishing: Increased Popularity

While the traditional book publishing industry is trending downward, the self-published book market and related statistics are on an upswing. Both authors and readers are enjoying a surge of popularity in books that authors publish through nontraditional means.

The Number of Self-published Books Are Up 40%

Authors who choose to self-publish are responsible for obtaining their book’s ISBN number themselves, providing an accurate metric of how many authors are currently publishing their own book rather than utilizing traditional book publishing companies. Since 2013, self-published book requests for ISBN numbers have increased 236% with a 40% increase in self-published book titles reported by Bowker in 2019 over 2018 alone.

Online Retailers Sell up to 60% of All Self-Published Books

With the meteoric rise in online purchasing through retail giants like Amazon, self-publishing authors have a more reliable avenue to sell their books than at any other time in history. One of the most difficult challenges for self-published authors used to be finding ways to make their books available to readers. Online retailers have provided an easy way for readers to not only learn about new publications and read reviews about them, but also purchase the books from anywhere, at any time. This unparalleled access has clearly contributed to the increases in self-published book sales in recent years.

Self-Publishers Can Earn up to 3x the Royalties Over Traditionally Published Authors

Simply put, authors who go the self-publishing route do not have to split their book royalties with a publishing company. Thus, they take home a higher percentage of sales per book. Books that are traditionally published typically provide a royalty of 10% of the retail list price while self-published books can earn up to 30%.

 Self-Publishing Authors Can Receive Royalties in 90 Days

One of the assumed benefits of using a traditional publishing company is that authors may be granted an advance payment for their book. Advances for new authors are rare and minimal, but established authors may earn $2000 – $5000 ahead of a book’s release. But the sneaky truth about book advances is that authors do not receive any royalties until their book sales (and the author’s share of the royalties) have exceeded the advance amount. So while traditional book companies may offer an advance payment, how well the book sells will determine the royalties that an author receives as well as when they may see that royalty money. On the other hand, authors who go with self-publishing do not have the benefit of an advance payment, but can start receiving royalty payments within the first three months of the book’s sale. This relatively quick turnaround is an excellent reason for many authors to choose to publish their work themselves, since they won’t have to wait months or longer for any royalty payments to roll in.

Choosing Self-Publication for Your Book

While many authors used to dream about working with a large publishing house to bring their book dreams to print, many authors now choose the freedom and flexibility offered by self-publishing companies like Publishing Xpress. With the expanded retail platform opportunities available to self-publishing authors, selling books is so much easier for authors.

Writers who publish their own books can now enjoy potentially greater profitability, faster, than those authors who work with traditional publishing houses. Choosing to self-publish is becoming more and more popular as book publishing statistics illuminate the many obvious benefits for authors and readers. For authors who are ready to get started, choosing a reliable, proven printing company like Publishing Xpress to trust with their book is the first step toward self-publication. Once a partnership is established, authors can concentrate on readying their writing for publication.

  • Enlist experts to help you finalize the book like a professional editor to polish the writing and format and a design expert to assist in crafting a stunning book cover.
  • Choose the right size and style of binding to make the publication stand out while fitting into genre conventions.
  • Secure an ISBN number so your book can be easily found by readers and sold by retailers once self-published.
  • Decide on the best quantity of books to order when your manuscript is ready to publish.

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