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Modern Book Publishing: Websites for the Trade (August 2014): Home

By John Rodzvilla


This bibliographic essay first appeared in the August 2014 issue of Choice (volume 51 | number 12).


Bowker, the official agency for assigning ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) in America, reports that the number of new book titles published by traditional book publishers in America has been hovering around 300,000 titles per year since 2009.[1]  Add to that number the output from self-publishers, which has grown from 111,359 in 2009 to just over 391,000 in 2012[2], and the volume of new books available to consumers each year becomes overwhelming.  To these 700,000 titles add the hundreds of thousands of digital titles that Bowker cannot track because they are published without ISBNs through services like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press, and it becomes dizzying to think about what to read next.

One way of interpreting this mind-boggling output of titles is to realize that the publishing industry is currently in the middle of a revolution that matches the introduction of the printing press in Europe.  Online services have democratized the ability to publish and distribute textual material.  While the traditional model of an author working with a publisher who will edit, design, print, and distribute the book is still a valid and trusted means for publication, print-on-demand services are now available to help individuals and organizations print material that has little value to a general readership and is therefore not profitable for mainstream publishing.  New technology continues to create new paths from author to reader, but the basic methods and practices for making a professional product remain the same.

This bibliographic essay starts by identifying the major publishing organizations and the tools and best practices they have developed and make available on the web to help their members.  The essay also provides a core list of resources on modern publishing that will help anyone create professional products while running an efficient and streamlined work flow.  In order to document the rich collection that has only recently come online and is now accessible and searchable, this essay focuses on the resources available from the traditional side of publishing instead of the author-as-publisher and self-publishing models.  Much still needs to be done to document and evaluate the publishing services available to authors and organizations that want to self-publish and distribute their material through the new avenues of publishing that are emerging for on-demand printing and handheld devices.

[1] “ISBN Output Report for 2002-2012.”  Bowker.

[2] “Self-Publishing in the United States, 2007-2012: Print and Ebook.”  Bowker.

John Rodzvilla is the senior electronic publisher-in-residence at Emerson College.

Works Cited