Apr 212006
 

Tim O’Reilly has posted parts 2 and 3 of his computer book market Bookscan analysis, linked below —

State of the Computer Book Market, Part 2

State of the Computer Book Market, Part 3

It’s been a year since Tim’s first post on this, and I can’t recall any other publisher making a concentrated effort to share analysis in such a public fashion. With Bookscan, obviously, publishers don’t have so many secrets from each other, but O’Reilly shakes and bakes the Bookscan data in some interesting ways, including such measures as “revenue per title” and “title efficiency.”

It’s good to keep in mind that this is based on Bookscan data alone, and doesn’t include some other important revenues sources such as foreign rights sales, ebooks, custom books and special sales, or overseas English language sales.

O’Reilly sees 7% growth in the computer book market compared to last Spring, which is slightly higher than I thought it would be, and extremely welcome news.

An interesting comment regarding lower end books, Tim notes that the “for Dummies” brand remains the dominant consumer brand “in the shrinking category of consumer operating systems”, but also scores well on title efficiency and growth (11% by Tim’s reckoning). It will be interesting to see if the Vista and Office releases will create some true positive momentum in the consumer space, and also if the early adopter growth in Web 2.0 programming titles somehow translates into a minor web title boomlet as consumers learn to work and play in 2.0 style.

Some new players have done well, especially The Pragmatic Programmer’s which grew at 248%. That’s awesome, and shows that O’Reilly made a smart bet with their distribution partners.

Tim notes that the Wrox brand has recovered and prospered, with Wiley doing an excellent job of integrating an ailing imprint — and I’d expect to see the same thing next year with Sybex titles. (You can find Wrox editor Jim Minatel’s comments on Tim’s post here — yes, we do have our mojo back thank you very much).

This is all required reading if you’re writing computer books. No matter what, new growth is definitely great news for the business and it’s nice that we’re seeing some excitement around tech again: Ajax, Ruby, Web 2.0, iTunes and iPods everywhere, a digital camera in every purse, new author-driven models touted at Pragmatic Programmers, and more ebooks from established publishers.

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