Some Facts About Books, Publishing and Technology You Didn’t Know

Ronald E. Yates is an author of award-winning historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy.

Dear ForeignCorrespondent Followers: This is a re-post–updated a bit to include the latest statistics. For those who may have missed it the first time around, I hope you enjoy it. For those seeing it for the first time, I hope you will find it eye-opening. Ron Yates

I  am a compulsive collector of trivial information, some of which is not as trivial as you might think.

For example, as a writer, the following facts fascinated me about books and publishing–an area that I am especially focused on because it is critical to my work.

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  • In 1889, 4,600 book titles were published in America.
  • By 1989, 45,000 new book titles were published.
  • In 2009–just 30 years later–1.3 million new titles were released in the U.S.
  • Today, there are more than 7,000,000 books available for sale–most of them e-books in places like Amazon.
  • 52% of all books are not sold in bookstores – they are sold by mail order, online, through book clubs, or in warehouse stores.
  • In 2005, 1.2 million book title sales were tracked by Nielsen Bookscan and only 25,000 titles sold more than 5,000 copies each. Another 950,000 books sold fewer than 99 copies.
  • First-time authors write 75% of all new nonfiction books published each year.
  • 85% of all new titles published each year are non-fiction and 15% are fiction.

For those who write for a living (or just for the fun of it) some of that information will be a wake up call–especially the fact that almost 1 million books published each year via a variety of avenues (e-books, self-publishing, publishing on demand, publishing with small and vanity houses) will sell less than 99 copies.

And that brings me to a topic that I have discussed in previous posts, namely, how even the most successful authors struggled to