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E-book production overtakes hardbacks in 2011

E-book production overtook hardback output in 2011 for the first time, as the number of new titles published in the UK continued to flatline, according to book production figures published by Nielsen BookScan.

Publishers produced 149,800 new books and new editions in 2011, down from the 2009 high point of 157,039 and down from last year's 151,959; this was despite the growing number of e-books published with separate ISBNs from their print equivalents. Nielsen said the decrease showed a "natural reduction in difficult market conditions and a stabilisation across production methods and a shift from print to digital".

The Nielsen numbers do not include the large number of self-published titles published direct to Amazon's Kindle platform, which require only an ASIN. Nevertheless, the figures show an upswing in e-book output since 2010. In 2011, 35,000 e-books were registered for the first time with an ISBN, compared with 28,963, an increase of 20%. By contrast both hardback and paperback production fell: hardbacks fell from 30,175 in 2010 to 28,000 in 2011; paperback output decreased from 79,087 to 71,000.

Despite the output numbers, the number of new publishers receiving an ISBN prefix over the year continued to rise, to 3,412 in 2011 compared to 3,151 in 2010. Nielsen said the continuing trend upwards was being "led by self-published authors, print-on-demand and digital product".