Rachel Donadio has an interesting essay in the current New York Times Book Review that explores a unique American biblio phenomenon: while people continue to read fewer books every year, the number of books being published continues to climb at rather an alarming rate.
“A recent report by the National Endowment for the Arts found that 53 percent of Americans surveyed hadnâ€™t read a book in the previous year … In 2007, a whopping 400,000 books were published or distributed in the United States, up from 300,000 in 2006, according to the industry tracker Bowker, which attributed the sharp rise to the number of print-on-demand books and reprints of out-of-print titles. University writing programs are thriving, while writersâ€™ conferences abound, offering aspiring authors a chance to network and â€œworkshopâ€ their work.”
With the barriers to entry with regard to publishing beginning to fall, perhaps largely due to print on demand, will traditional publishers and booksellers need to rethink how they can get the right book into the right hands? Probably not. Maybe it simply reveals what was always there: many have the desire to share their thoughts on the page whether it’s for fame and fortune, or simply to share a few memories with family and friends.