Bill's Blog

Trends in Publishing

Nov 8, 2013

When I broke into this business with my first novel in 1980, self-publishing wasn’t much of an option. Print-on-demand publishing technology was decades away, and the e-book concept was barely a spark in the brain of a few science fiction writers. Authors who wanted to self-publish had to pay thousands of dollars to have a few thousand copies of their book printed. The Internet was also decades away, so it was almost impossible to sell all those self-published books. Most of them gathered dust in garages, closets, and attics.

I’m not sure how many books were self-published in 1980. Probably a few thousand. But times have certainly changed. Nowadays, self-publishing is cheap and easy. According to R. R. Bowker, the company that issues International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) and keeps track of US publishing data, more than 391,000 titles were self-published in 2012, a 59 percent increase over 2011 and a 422 percent increase over 2007. Bowker also says the quality of self-published books is improving.

For a look at some other interesting stats, check it out at

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