Reading on College Campuses
From the November 1, 2009 Chronicle of Higher Education.
By the Numbers
During the early 1970s, publishers in the United States produced fewer than
40,000 new books each year. Fast forward over thirty years and readers would
expect a drastic reduction in the number of new books produced each year due to
advances in computer technology and the shift to electronic formats. Yet
amazingly, book publishing in the United States continued to grow and expanded to well over
215,000 titles in 2002. Despite competition
between 2004-2007, the
number of print titles produced grew each year by an average of 4.3%. Only a
poor economy in 2008 seemed to curtail new print book production (see graph)
as output decreased to 275,232 (3.2%) from the decade high of 284,370 titles
published in 2007. Data for 2009 is not quite ready and experts predict another
year of decreased output.
In 1972, the average mass market and trade hardcover book price was
$12.99 and in 2008, the price for a similar book was $34.27. Mass market
paperback books cost on average $1.12 in 1972. Thirty-six years later,
the average cost is $6.50. Academic book pricing varies by subject area
with the sciences and technology areas being the most expensive. For
example, the most recent statistics indicate that on average, chemistry books
cost $175.33 and geology books cost $118.23. Books in subject areas such as
industrial arts ($36.01), physical education/recreation ($42.58), and
literature/language ($44.91) on average are priced considerably lower.
Print on demand and e-book trends
The day may come when every library or bookstore has book making
machines that can produce any book you want. Perhaps Amazon.com or Google will
let you buy or lease any book in the world, in whatever format you want,
for as long as you want. But for now authors still publish books, and
people will still read them. Regardless of the earlier mentioned reduction in
traditional print book publishing output, 2008 signaled change in other dramatic
ways. For instance, 2008 marked the first time that the number of “On
Demand” and short-run print output was larger than the traditional means.
According to Bowker, 285,394 “On Demand” print books were produced last year,
which is more than a 100% over the previous year’s final total of 123,276
titles(see graph, above).
According to a report in Publishers Weekly from August 31, 2009, “desktop and
laptop computers were the preferred way for the public to read e-books.” Kindle
was mentioned as gaining more and more of the e-book market share compared to
computer downloads. The same article revealed that e-book readers paid an
average price of $9.08 for an electronic download.
Books in Murphy Library
Readers will already know that more print books are being produced
every year and will also recall that academic books cost more than trade or mass
market books; especially in the science disciplines. Murphy Library
analyzed the number of books acquired by publication date and the accompanying
the results. Staff in the Collection and Resource Development department
also studied circulation data and know that the majority of new materials
circulate one or more times (circulate between 78%-94%), which is a great return
on our investments.
New faculty members who seek to develop and acquire resources for the
library to support their courses and research are encouraged to
contact, John Jax
(5-8567). Stay tuned for more research being conducted on library
Sources for the data above include:
- Henderson, J. J., & Schick, F.L. (1973). The Bowker annual of library &
book trade information. New York: R.R. Bowker.
- Bogart, D., & Blixrud, J. C. (2009). Library and book trade almanac.
Medford, NJ: Information Today.
- Milliot, J. (2009). Kindle market share on the rise. Publisher’s Weekly,
256 (35), 4.