Via yesterday’s Publisher’s Lunch, Bowker has a preliminary report that shows an 18,000 title drop in 2005 U.S. book production (the U.K. was up).

From the press release

“Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker is projecting that U.S. title output in 2005 decreased by more than 18,000 to 172,000 new titles and editions. This is the first decline in U.S. title output since 1999, and only the 10th downturn recorded in the last 50 years. It follows the record increase of more than 19,000 new books in 2004.”

That’s a pretty big drop and might illustrate what Tim O’Reilly discussed in regards to recent tech book market trends: sales growth is concentrated among bestsellers, and publishers are being more conservative.

Note too the comment about the rising price of paper impacting publisher decisions —

“In 2005, publishers were more cautious and disciplined when it came to their lists,” said Gary Aiello, chief operating officer of New Providence, N.J.-based Bowker. “We see that trend continuing in 2006. The price of paper has already gone up twice this year, and publishers, especially the small ones, will have to think very carefully about what to publish.”

I wonder too if this reflects some of the passage of a pent up demand for self-publishing and POD that helped to account for a 19,000 increase from 2003 to 2004. I have to imagine that plays a part.

Here’s the rough stat sheet but the numbers don’t exactly match the press release.

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