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American publishing took a nosedive last year

Many media outlets, including Publishers Weekly, the L.A. Times, and Yahoo! News, unveiled yesterday the drop in output the American publishing industry showed in 2005. The number of new books and new editions of old works published last year fell by almost 10%, with even the biggies – new titles from the largest houses – falling by almost 5%.

“In 2005, publishers were more cautious and disciplined when it came to their lists,” said Gary Aiello, chief operating officer of Bowker, who compiled the statistics. “We see that trend continuing in 2006. The price of paper has already gone up twice this year, and publishers, especially the small ones, will have to think very carefully about what to publish.”

Bowker consultant Andrew Grabois said, “Publishers are coming to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that the market cannot handle 200,000 books each year.” He compared the industry’s former publishing-happy tactics to “throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping something would stick.”

Looks like their spaghetti-flingin’ days are over, folks – Bowker predicts declines in history, biography, children’s books, technology, and even religion, a category that has been selling like hotcakes recently.

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Read the Yahoo! News article