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Print-on-demand titles outnumbered traditional books in 2008

Publishers Weekly is reporting that U.S. book production both rose and fell in 2008, according to statistics just released from Bowker’s Books in Print database. While the number of new and revised titles released by traditional production methods fell 3% in 2008 to 275,232, the number of on-demand and short run titles jumped a whopping 132% to 285,394. With the two numbers combined, total output increased by 38% to 560,626 books. This marks the first time that print-on-demand titles have topped traditional books in production numbers. From PW:

Kelly Gallagher, v-p of publisher services for Bowker, said the decline in traditional books reflects not only the difficult economy but the decision by publishers to become smarter and more strategic in the titles they published last year. A breakout by segment shows the impact of the economy on publishing. The number of travel titles was down 15% last year as Americans stayed closer to home, while fiction titles fell 11%, to 47,541. The religion segment also had a significant decline with new titles off 14%. The biggest gain among traditional segments came in education where output rose 33%, to 9,510, while new business titles rose 14%, to 8,838.

Since 2002, production of print-on-demand books has leaped 774%, compared to a 126% growth for traditional titles. Gallagher cited the vast improvements in print-on-demand printing technology as a major reason for the change.