The number of book readers declines even as self publishing skyrockets

By | March 15, 2017

I’m nearing the end of revising the third draft of my Lean Media book. While researching industry trends, I found two fascinating pieces of data. First, Bowker’s data for ISBN registrations for self-published books:

ISBN registrations self published Bowker

Printed self-published books with self-purchased ISBNs or “free” ISBNs from Createspace and other providers have doubled every few years. While the ebook ISBNs look anemic, this data does not include self-published ebooks uploaded to Amazon KDP which do not require ISBNs (for more context on this issue, I recommend reading recent Author Earnings reports). It also does not reflect traditionally published books, which have suffered greatly thanks to low-priced self-published alternatives.

Here’s the second data point I wanted to share:

Americans buying books Source: Nielsen 2015 Year In Books ReviewThe data is from the Nielsen 2015 Year In Books report. It indicates the number of Americans who buy books is declining. It’s possible those who are still reading are buying more books, but it’s certainly not enough to keep up with the massive growth in the number of available titles. This translates to a lot of disappointed authors and struggling publishers.

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