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?