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Backlist titles are now the big sellers

Posted on May 24, 2015

Last year, traditional publishers sold 635 million paper books. And over half (56%!) were backlist.

The numbers are in, and year-end results for 2014 show a game-changing trend. Backlist sales are now outpacing frontlist. Last year, traditional publishers sold 635 million paper books. And over half (56%!) were backlist. In fact, frontlist sales dropped by 2 million units, while backlist rose by 17 million. And this development isn’t about a lack of breakout current hits. It’s about something much bigger: the evolution of our industry.

Book sales are changing, online and off. Sheer availability has altered the way people buy, and the line between new titles and those that are simply new to the reader has been blurred. Online retailing, with its no shelf-space limitations and recommendations based on previous purchases, has changed the publishing industry in a very big way.

recent article in Publishers’ Weekly positions the change as part of a larger trend. Everything old is new again, and the same thing applies to books.

That’s where a program like BookFWD fits in. When all a title needs is a reprint or a cover update, digital inkjet printing lets publishers effortlessly revive their backlist without high offset print runs or the burden of excess inventory.