So Many Books

I am, as I’ve reported, lumbering along through Anna Karenina, a 935 page book published 132 years ago. (Status: 37.6% complete. Update coming at 40%.) This will of course reduce the total number of different books I might read this year, but who’s counting?

Someone is.

I am cheered to find out from those who do the counting that the sheer volume of books out there waiting to be read is slightly smaller this year. According to the Books-in-print people, the total number of new books and editions published in 2008 fell, making the stack of stuff to read 3% shorter than that published in 2007.

That isn’t, though, very comforting when one stares at the real numbers. This from the press release:

New Providence, NJ – May 19, 2009 – Bowker, the global leader in bibliographic information management solutions, today released statistics on U.S. book publishing for 2008, compiled from its Books In Print® database. Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker is projecting that U.S. title output in 2008 decreased by 3.2%, with 275,232 new titles and editions, down from the 284,370 that were published in 2007.

Did you get that? More than 275 thousand new books rolled off US presses in 2008, everyone of them expecting to be read by someone.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wrap my mind around such numbers, especially when I must choose the books worth reading, and line them up against my available time.

I wonder if we will continue reading into eternity? I’ll need to if I chose to tackle any more Russian novels (or Stephen King for that matter).

The article does go on to say that the volume of religion books published dropped 11% from 2007. That is probably a good thing.

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(By the way, my neighbor reports that her novel manuscript is complete and in the hands of a ‘superstar’ editing agency. She is a serious writer who has studied the craft and worked hard at it. I’m cheering for her.)