NPR’s “On the Media” reported some publishing trends recently. Among the interesting facts:

  • Bookstores account for only 40 percent of book sales nationally.
    (The percentage would probably be even lower if book marketing was more sophisticated.)
  • Amazon accounts for 11 percent of all book sales nationally.
    (I would like to see more people shop at Powell’s.)
  • OTM claims that print on demand (POD) will enable independent stores to better compete with the big boxes.
    (I’m not so sure of this. If POD machines catch on they are likely to be installed outside bookstores in all sorts of high-traffic locations.)
  • The membership of the American Booksellers Association has dropped from more than 5000 to around 1700 over the past decade.
    (This is partly because of the decline in independent book selling, but I think it also reflects the changing role of the ABA. Thanks to the internet it is no longer as necessary for bookseller to go to the annual publishing convention, which has become more of a rights fair than a booksellers’ convention.)
  • Reading proficiency is declining across the board.
    (This is good for publishers such as Chronicle Books who focus more on pictures than words.)