I spent hours yesterday researching the number of books that have been published, and this is what I came up with:
300,000 books were published in 2003.
407,000 books were published in 2007.
1,052,803 books were published in 2009.
Approximately 3,000,000 books were published in 2011.
And . . . drum roll, please . . . Bowker (according to Seth Godin) estimates that they will issue 15,000,000 ISBN numbers in 2012.
That means, 15,000,000 books will probably be published in 2012. 15,000,000. Yikes.
Google estimates that as of August 2010, there were 129,864,880 books in existence. Which means that the total number of books that will be published in 2012 is more than 1/10 of all the books in existence. That is an unfathomable jump, a 500% increase in a single year. (That is correct, right? 3,000,000 times 500% = 15,000,000.) Unbelievable.
I got an email from a book marketer today, wanting me to write an article about what the publishing landscape will look like in 2016. I cannot imagine what it will look like. Even if the number of books published returns to the more typical 200% increase per year, by the year 2016, we will have doubled all the books that were in existence in 2011.
So, the question tonight is, why write? With such a staggering number of books out there, why is your book important? Only a small percentage of writers have ever made a living at writing (and most of those were people who wrote books on how to make a living at writing), and that percentage seems to be shrinking. More than 80% of books sell less than 100 copies. Maybe 50% sell only about ten or so. So, why write? Why take the time to learn the craft if some of the books that do sell are poorly written tripe?
As always, any topic that will help us improve our writing is fair game in these discussions, so feel free to bring up any of your writing concerns.
The group No Whine, Just Champagne will meet here at this article for a live discussion about writing and the writing life on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 9:00pm ET (8pm CT, 7pm MT, 6pm PT). Hope to see you, but if you can't make it then, the discussion will continue during the days afterward, so please stop by and tell us what you think.