Report: Books, Creators and Series, 1800-2018
Correspondence concerning this report should be addressed to René Walling.
Contact: [email protected]
This report aims to take a look at genre books published between 1800 and 2018, inclusively.
Three lists of genre books were consulted. The Locus Index to Science Fiction (LISF), the SFBooklist (SFB) and the Internet Science Fiction Databae (ISFDB). All three lists were consolidated into one list and the following information kept for each book: Title, author names (editor names in the case of anthologies), name of the series (if applicable), date of first publication. Biographical data was also collected for authors and editors. Novels, chapbooks, collections, anthologies and nonfiction books related to the genres of fantasy, horror and science fiction, i.e. found in one of the above mentioned lists, were all included. Multiple editions of the same book under different titles were merged. Omnibuses, being reprints of previously published books were excluded from the final list as were books flagged as unpublished in the ISFDB. The source each book was listed in was also tracked.
Number of books and creators
The total number of books listed over the entire 1800-2018 time span totals 168,012. The number of books listed for by each source is provided in Table 1. The breakdown of books listed in one, two, or all three sources is shown in Table 2.
A breakdown of the number of books listed in each source for every year between 1800 to 2018, inclusively, is provided in Table 3. That data is visualized in Figure 1 and again in Figure 2 using a logarithmic scale.
The total number of books is consistently below 100 before 1891. For LISF, it is consistently below 100 before 1975 and after 2007, for SFB, it is consistently below 100 before 1951 and after 2007, and for ISFDB it is consistently below 100 before 1891.
Note: the values for years outside the above mentioned ranges have been highlighted in red in all tables and will not be used for further analysis when looking at chronological data.
Number of books published by author
Knowing how many books were published brings up the questions of how many creators (i.e. authors or editors) wrote/edited these books. The total number of creators is 45,874, of which 10,191 (22.2% of all creators listed) had a co-creator on at least one book.
The average number of books per creator is 3.63 books and the median is 1. Table 4 shows the number of creators by books published. That data is visualized in Figure 3 and again in Figure 4 using a logarithmic scale.
Note: The 1,347 books for which the creator is unknown/uncredited are not included in this table and associated charts, or to calculate the above mentioned average and median numbers.
Number of series published
The total number of books published that were part of a series was 91,709 (54.58% of all books listed) for every year between 1891 to 2018 and is presented in Table 5. The same data as a percentage of all books listed for each year is shown in Table 6. That percentage is visualized in Figure 5. For both tables and the figure, the data is shown by source and for the total number of books listed.
Table 7 shows the number of series based on how many books are in each series. That data is visualized in Figure 6 and again in Figure 7 using a logarithmic scale.
The provided data shows the state of genre publishing but does not explain the causes of these changes. Some inquiries that may prove interesting to look into further include:
– What are the effects of technology on the number of books printed? From the invention of the Linotype and Monotype in the 1890s to the introduction of eBooks and Print On Demand in the early 2000s, how have changes in production and formats changed the quantity of books published?
– What other real world events have affected the number of books published?
– What is the cause of the rise in the number of series published?