The sense among many industry members that there were more books published in 2003 by more book publishers was borne out by statistics released last week by R.R. Bowker. Based on preliminary figures, Bowker estimates that total book output in the U.S. rose 19% last year, to 175,000 new titles and editions. Bowker also reported that 10,877 new publishers registered for ISBNs in 2003, bringing the total number of companies up over 78,000.

Among the trade segments, the number of adult general fiction titles fell 1.6% in the year, to 17,021. The decline in fiction was more than offset by a large increase in the output of nonfiction books, led by double-digit gains in biography, history and religion. The output of new children's books also jumped in the year, increasing 45.3%, to 16,283 titles. Andrew Grabois, senior v-p of publisher relations and content development at Bowker, observed that the growth in the number of nonfiction titles that began after September 11 accelerated in 2003, particularly in the area of current affairs.

The overall increase in book production was generated by midsized and small publishers. Bowker found that the number of new titles published by the top 12 trade houses rose only 2.4%, to 22,914, last year. The number of history and religion titles published by the trade houses in 2003 increased significantly, while the number of adult fiction, biography and children's titles rose slightly. The major houses published significantly fewer titles in the art, business and travel categories.

Reflecting problems among university presses, Bowker reported that the number of books published by those houses last year fell 2.2%, to 12,003. Psychology and religion were among the few categories where university presses increased their title output.

Bowker also found that with the exception of adult fiction hardcover, the list price of most books published by the major houses fell in 2003.