Preaching in the Desert
The New York Times Sunday Book Review has an interesting piece on the book trade:
In 2007, a whopping 400,000 books were published or distributed in the United States, up from 300,000 in 2006, according to the industry tracker Bowker, which attributed the sharp rise to the number of print-on-demand books and reprints of out-of-print titles. University writing programs are thriving, while writers’ conferences abound, offering aspiring authors a chance to network and “workshop” their work. The blog tracker Technorati estimates that 175,000 new blogs are created worldwide each day (with a lucky few bloggers getting book deals). And the same N.E.A. study found that 7 percent of adults polled, or 15 million people, did creative writing, mostly “for personal fulfillment.”
A recent survey found 53% of Americans admitting that they had not read a book in the previous year. But hand in hand with this we have what The New York Times calls collective graphomania.
IUniverse, a self-publishing company founded in 1999, has grown 30 percent a year in recent years; it now produces 500 titles a month and has 36,000 titles in print, said Susan Driscoll, a vice president of its parent company, Author Solutions. While some are “calling card” books that specialists sell at conferences and workshops, most are by ordinary people who want to get their work in print. The writers tend to be on both ends of the age spectrum. “As people get older, they have more time and more money and something to say,” Driscoll said, while their grandchildren are often driven by “that need for fame,” she said. “They may not be avid readers, but they certainly are writers.” Not that anyone is necessarily paying attention. Driscoll said that most writers using iUniverse sell fewer than 200 books.