There’s a fascinating post at O’Reilly’s Radar, Book Sales as a Technology Trend Indicator that sums up trends in the computer book market.
O’Reilly is doing cool things with internal mapping and trend analysis — no surprise given their technical chops — and they’ve created a detailed “Treemap” of the trends, based on Bookscan data, over the last two years.
A few highlights: we may have finally hit bottom as an industry and sales seem to be growing in 2005; database literacy is increasingly important; C# is gaining on Java but programming titles in general are down: and increased sales of Quickbooks titles may indicate more small business activity.
Photoshop Elements, iPods, and related digital lifestyle titles are the big gainers. And Mac OS, Photoshop and Dreamweaver have slowed some, probably in anticipation of the new releases.
Soft titles ala The Cult of Mac are a growing category, which I think is indicative of the overall computer book market becoming more and more like the traditional trade market. Not only do we have big publisher and author brands, we have a sense of culture now, and readers are interested in the history, personalities, and context of our industry.
O’Reilly also notes that they’re one of the few large publishers to have any significant growth in the last few years (I’d probably add Peachpit to that list). O’Reilly has really expanded their scope. They’ve done a great job of breaking into the Mac market, and now the graphics market, two areas that were anything but synonymous with ORA five or six years ago.