Although book sales are said to be essentially flat, the number of titles produced in 2009 jumped 87%, according to information released this week by R.R. Bowker.
All of this growth came from “non-traditional” titles, the work of micro-niche and self-publishers. More than 764,000 such non-traditional titles were released in 2009.
The growth in non-traditional publishing is not new. Last year, Author Solutions’ revenues passed $100 million. Relative newcomer BiblioBazaar, a unit of BiblioLife, released on its own nearly as many books as the entire “traditional” sector, combined.
BiblioBazaar draws much of its content from public-domain books, whose rights are no longer an issue. That’s an easy strategy to dismiss, but it’s not much different from the one adopted by Open Road Integrated Media for e-book acquisition.
Publishers have been alternately infuriated by Open Road’s claim on rights that they feel they own and relieved by the advent of the “new, shiny”. What they miss in both cases is attention to detail.
Andrew Albenese captures BiblioBazaar president Mitchell Davis, who says it best:
“The key is finding finding unique content and realizing that content does not sell itself. We get up every day looking for new sales channels, new products and new packaging relationships.”
There is an inflection point coming, and digital players will benefit. There is also a long shelf life for print, and those who streamline for the new, agile order will also be able to benefit.