Sunday, October 10, 2010

792 new book titles daily in 2008

I have always been energized by good books. I am not at all persuaded that all that is worth reading has been written by the classical (Greco-Roman) writers, as is the contention of fervent classicists. It is not even true that it suffices, for one's liberal education, to stop one's reading at 1930, or 1950.

The contemporary society is responding to entirely unprecedented challenges, due to the globalizing influence of technology. Therefore its responses are not anticipated by the ancients.  It is fascinating to observe and understand our world at this very instant. And this requires that we read contemporary writers.

It is therefore reassuring that, by all accounts, the book industry is thriving, despite the Internet.

The information and knowledge explosion continues with increasing pace. According to Bowker's latest statistics (for 2008), there were 289729 new titles and editions published (in Angloshere, not worldwide, I suppose) in 2008. This works out to one title every 1.82 minutes, and 791.6 titles every day. Of course such publishing activity overwhelms one. But as an indicator of a literate and curious society, it is gratifying.

This is a summary of the 2008 book statistics for some categories that interest me:

Category                            New titles          minutes/title         titles/day

   Total                                      289729                 1.82                    791.6
1.Fiction                                     53058                 9.93                    145.0
2.Literature                               10843                48.61                     29.6
3.Language                                  6181                85.27                     16.9
4.History                                    13477                39.11                     36.8
5.Philosophy, Psychology           12605                41.81                     34.4
6.Religion                                   18296                28.81                     50.0
7.Biography                                11375                46.33                     31.1
8.Travel                                        5101              103.32                     13.9

 Sum of 4,5,7 (core interests)     37457                14.07                   102.3

In contrast, Whitaker's Cumulative Book List shows that in 1977, 36322 new titles and editions were published in the UK, This is equivalent to 99.5 new titles every day, a deluge even then.

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