According to PW, there are 3,000 books published PER DAY. Now, granted, I’m sure this figure includes self-published books, things like trade manuals and everything else under the sun, but that is a whole lot of books. Without question, there are more books being published today than ever before in the history of humankind.
Is this a good thing?
One thing I always hear is that the publishing industry puts out too many bad books. “Too many books — too many BAD books!” I always tell these naysayers that they just bought the wrong books, because there are more good books published every single month than would be possible to read in an entire lifetime, but I won’t deny that there are quite a few mediocre books that hit the shelves, some of which even sell quite a few copies.
What should be done about this? Hypothetically, should there be fewer, better books and should the publishing industry invest their resources in these? One of the problems with so many books being published is the sheer abundance of options is one important factor in the gradual disappearance of the “midlist” — books that sold fine but weren’t bestsellers. This abundance has helped to fracture the marketplace into niche markets, leaving only a handful of mega-bestsellers at the top who are commanding large advances.
Or do we benefit from having 3,000 books published a day, some of which rise to the top, but most of which languish in anonymity? Consumers have options, niche books are finding their markets, and small gems that might not have made the cut in a blockbuster-driven publishing clime are published by small presses every single day.
So you tell me: should we publish fewer books or more? Which is better for readers, the publishing industry and literature as a whole?
Jennifer L. Griffith says
Okay, attempt #2. Apparently my other comment fell into the www abyss…hmmmm. Maybe I’ll make this one short and to the point.
Good book/Bad book is entirely subjective.
Too many. Not enough. Who can say?
Tia Nevitt says
It’s not a bad thing. It’s a simple question of supply and demand. Publishers would not print what cannot sell. If there is a demand for 3000 books a day, publishers will publish 3000 books a day. It seems like a staggering figure, but if this includes every type of book under the sun, then maybe not.
If the demand trends downward, then publishing will respond.
Ever since i learned how to read, i have always been in the midst of reading one book or another. Books have been good friends in my life. I feel sorry for that growing percentage of the population that doesn’t read. How many two-hour movies or TV shows can one watch without getting bored?
It’s true that there are many bad books in circulation but you will find enough good books (whatever your definition of good might be) to last you a lifetime.
In a competitive market the more books that are out there, the higher the quality will be of those that rise to the top. So the answer is “more.”
Very often when I purchase a book I’m disappointed in the quality for some reason.
When I get books from the library, out of the ten that I get, maybe one or two will really knock me out. The rest will be either mediocre or just plain unreadable.
This is why I’d favor some kind of rental scheme (the literary equivalent of Netflix) or the bargain basement download price on an e-reader. Like the proverbial box of chocolates, when it comes to books you never know what you’re gonna get.
John Elder Robison says
I don’t think the bad ones do any harm, and some future person may see merit in today’s “bad” book.
As an author, though, it’s sure intimidating how many books you’re up against on those “new releases” tables.