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Self-publishing sees massive growth

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Published on www.guardian.co.uk.

Self-publishing is becoming “mainstream”, with new figures revealing the number of do-it-yourself books published in the US has exploded, tripling in the last five years to reach almost quarter of a million titles in 2011.New analysis from Bowker – which issues ISBNs for books published in the US – shows that writers are jumping into self-publishing at an unprecedented rate. The number of self-published books in America grew by 287% to 235,625 books between 2006 and 2011.

Self-published ebooks make up 37% of that total, with 87,201 released in 2011, and are the fastest-growing sector, up 129% since 2010, with print growing 33% in the same period.

“This is no longer just vanity presses at work – self-publishing is out of the dark corners and making its way into the mainstream,” said Bowker’s Beat Barblan, adding that earlier this summer, four self-published authors had seven novels on the New York Times ebook bestseller list. In 2011, America’s 148,424 self-published print books accounted for 43% of the total print output, Bowker said. A comparison for ebooks is impossible to provide as there are no reliable figures for the total number of ebooks published in the US.

“It feels as though the ground is shifting at the moment … It’s quite liberating. Some sort of transition was overdue,” said author Polly Courtney, who returned to self-publishing last year after publishing three books with HarperCollins, because she was unhappy with the way they aimed her titles squarely at the chick lit market. “The growth rate is amazingly high. The UK is considered to be a couple of years behind the US but I think it’s going the same way here too.”

The UK was not part of the new analysis, though some books published in the UK will also have been assigned an ISBN in the US.

According to Bowker Market Research’s Books & Consumers UK survey, self-published books accounted for around 11% of all ebooks purchased by UK consumers in the first half of 2012, and just over 1% of volume purchases of print and ebooks overall.

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