Publishing EMEMH in the 2000s – A quantitative survey

I’m exploring publishing trends in EMEMH. On with the numbers!

I’ve slightly revised the previous list of EMEMH books, and I’ve added a few more variables. The list (now promoted to its own page) includes statistics on 177 titles published from 2000-2011 in English on the subject. After the cut I’ll draw a few conclusions from an admittedly simple statistical analysis of this data. I’ll look at publishing and price trends, the publishers involved, the topics that are popular, etc. Some of the conclusions won’t be earth-shattering, but it’s nice to have some real data behind such generalizations.

Here’s the first part of my analysis. More to come later.

Of the 177 titles, there were 146 distinct authors and 69 presses publishing in the field.
Counting by year, we get:

Year Count of Title
2000 14
2001 11
2002 21
2003 20
2004 20
2005 23
2006 13
2007 16
2008 16
2009 10
2010 8
2011 5
Grand Total 177

Note the significant jump in titles from 2001 to 2002, maintaining that level through 2005, with a similarly precipitous decline from 2006 onward. Presumably the economic crash c. 2008 is responsible for the steady decline from 2009 to the present, although it’s hypothetically possible there will be a rush of works coming out in December 2011. What’s behind these numbers is less clear. I don’t know the lag time from contract to publication, presumably a few years. These numbers are also affected by any number of variables that I won’t pretend to untangle: strategies by the individual presses, the publishing rhythm of particularly productive authors, financial cutbacks both at the presses and by those purchasing the works…

And now, for the table that counts titles by publisher by year!

Publisher 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 Grand Total
Cambridge 1 4 4 1 1 1 1 1 2 16
Brill 1 2 1 1 3 1 2 1 1 1 1 15
Oxford 1 1 1 3 4 1 11
Boydell 1 1 1 1 1 4 1 10
Longman 3 1 1 1 4 10
Palgrave Macmillan 2 4 1 1 1 1 10
Ashgate 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9
Routledge 1 4 2 7
Pen & Sword 1 1 1 1 1 1 6
Greenwood 2 1 1 1 5
Yale 2 1 1 4
Spellmount 1 1 1 3
Sutton 3 3
Tauris 1 2 3
Basic Books 1 1 2
Cassell 2 2
Chicago 1 1 2
Emperor’s 1 1 2
Exeter 1 1 2
Four Courts 2 2
Frank Cass 2 2
Harvard 2 2
iUniverse 1 1 2
Johns Hopkins 1 1 2
Manchester 1 1 2
Nebraska 1 1 2
Penguin 1 1 2
Sussex Academic 1 1 2
Allen Lane 1 1
Birlinn Limited 1 1
Brassey’s 1 1
Castle 1 1
Cork 1 1
Edinburgh 1 1
Edizioni Plus 1 1
Foundry 1 1
Greenhill 1 1
Hambledon Continuum 1 1
Harper Perennial 1 1
INOS 1 1
Kansas 1 1
Leonaur 1 1
McFarland 1 1
MIT 1 1
Naval Institute 1 1
New York Review 1 1
North Carolina 1 1
Oklahoma 1 1
Pearson 1 1
Penn State 1 1
Pennsylvania 1 1
Phoenix 1 1
Pickering & Chatto 1 1
Potomac 1 1
Praeger 1 1
Random House 1 1
Rochester 1 1
Scholar’s Shelf 1 1
Smithsonian 1 1
Tempus 1 1
Thomas Dunne 1 1
Tuckwell 1 1
UCL 1 1
Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1 1
Wiley 1 1
Grand Total 14 11 21 20 20 23 13 16 16 10 8 5 177

I think this table suggests that the chronological trend of up-then-down was due in part to an unusually large number of books published by the top 8 publishers in 2007-2008. A second part seems to be a drop off in the number of minor presses publishing books, especially from 2007 on – the usual 6-7 titles per year drop to 3-4 per year from 2006 on (with the exception of 2009). But since I don’t know what the normal pattern of publication looks like, e.g. a steady one title per year vs. clumps, I probably shouldn’t spend too much time reading the tea leaves.

A smaller number of presses are responsible for the majority of publications in EMEMH. If we just focus on the main publishers printing such books (an arbitrary three or more works over the past 11 years), we see Harvard drop out, as well as a large number of less well-known publishers. That leaves us with 14 publishers (down from 69) publishing 110 of the 177 titles, i.e. 20% of the presses were responsible for 62% of the titles.

Publisher # Titles %OfTot Ave $ %Hardcover Ave #Yrs
Ashgate 9 8% $132 100% 63
Boydell 10 9% $82 90% 116
Brill 15 13% $193 93% 55
Cambridge 16 14% $62 31% 99
Greenwood 5 4% $106 100% 85
Harvard 2 2% $22 50% 220
Longman 8 7% $47 0% 131
Manchester 2 2% $80 100% 37
Nebraska 2 2% $20 0% 88
Oxford 11 9% $116 82% 105
Palgrave Macmillan 10 9% $85 80% 180
Pearson 3 3% $56 33% 70
Pen & Sword 6 5% $32 33% 15
Routledge 7 6% $33 0% 105
Spellmount 3 3% $35 67% 16
Sutton 3 3% $34 33% 11
Yale 4 3% $47 75% 36
Total 116 100% $69 61% 91

The top producers: Cambridge, Brill, Oxford, Palgrave and Boydell tied, then Ashgate, Longman. In addition to strong showings by elite publishers like Cambridge and Oxford, we also note that those second-tier presses with large numbers of titles have entire series dedicated to the subject, most notably Brill’s History of Warfare and the more popular Longman’s Modern Wars in Perspective. In addition to Brill, we also have multiple titles from other niche publishers like Boydell and Ashgate. The academic/popular hybrids of Palgrave Macmillan and Routledge also have several titles each.

The average price is also interesting, illustrating how much it costs to purchase books these days. For those in the field, no surprise that Brill, Ashgate and Greenwood are at the top of the price pyramid. What is more surprising is that Oxford is not far behind. In contrast, Cambridge’s average price is almost half as much as Oxford’s. But when you look at the next column, the percentage of the books issued as cheaper paperback, you see why Cambridge’s average price is so much lower: two-thirds of their books are available in paperback. If you were to just take the average price of Cambridge’s hardcover books, these titles would average $106. Cambridge has clearly chosen to issue more of its works in paperback, some at the time of publication and others later on. Comparing columns 4 and 5 for all the presses illustrates the hardly surprising fact that the percentage of paperback books dictates the price structure.

The final column calculates how broad of a chronological scope is preferred by each press – maybe if you make it chronologically broad enough, there’ll be a big enough market to offer paper back? or at least charge less? I’ll look at that in a later post.

When we look at the average cost by publisher by year, we get:

Publisher 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 Grand Total
Allen Lane $22 $22
Ashgate $150 $90 $150 $120 $180 $135 $145 $100 $115 $132
Basic Books $40 $40
Birlinn Limited $15 $15
Boydell $72 $90 $95 $80 $25 $82 $130 $82
Brassey’s
Brill $138 $191 $315 $42 $179 $315 $160 $203 $203 $199 $243 $193
Cambridge $142 $52 $53 $41 $39 $69 $25 $116 $67 $62
Cassell $18 $18
Castle $10 $10
Chicago $78 $45 $62
Cork $36 $36
Edinburgh $38 $38
Edizioni Plus
Emperor’s $65 $33 $49
Exeter $75 $110 $93
Foundry $315 $315
Four Courts $75 $75
Frank Cass $105 $105
Greenhill $35 $35
Greenwood $113 $92 $65 $150 $106
Hambledon Continuum $30 $30
Harper Perennial
Harvard $22 $22
INOS
iUniverse $22 $32 $27
Johns Hopkins $55 $60 $58
Kansas $25 $25
Leonaur $31 $31
Longman $47 $60 $32 $31 $53 $47
Manchester $75 $85 $80
McFarland $50 $50
MIT $60 $60
Naval Institute $33 $33
Nebraska $20 $19 $20
New York Review $20 $20
North Carolina $55 $55
Oklahoma $20 $20
Oxford $45 $125 $150 $165 $108 $35 $116
Palgrave Macmillan $135 $39 $90 $89 $105 $90 $85
Pearson $67 $67
Pen & Sword $37 $25 $40 $25 $40 $26 $32
Penguin $33 $16 $25
Penn State $99 $99
Pennsylvania $55 $55
Phoenix $32 $32
Pickering & Chatto $100 $100
Potomac $35 $35
Praeger $85 $85
Random House $16 $16
Rochester $80 $80
Routledge $4 $36 $41 $33
Scholar’s Shelf $39 $39
Smithsonian $18 $18
Spellmount $20 $50 $35
Sussex Academic $33 $35 $34
Sutton $34 $34
Tauris $84 $93 $90
Tempus
Thomas Dunne $30 $30
Tuckwell
UCL $38 $38
Weidenfeld & Nicholson $25 $25
Wiley $35 $35
Yale $51 $35 $50 $47
Grand Total $46 $87 $81 $68 $83 $67 $86 $71 $95 $65 $97 $107 $77

The bottom row shows the slow growth in price. These figures are obviously conflated with other variables, e.g. the timing of paperback releases. But the trend is clear – these books are costing us more money to purchase. In a future post I’ll look at the other variables, which wars were most popular, the length of the books, and maybe even the type of military history (a history of a war, of a country’s military, of battle…).

What do you see? How do you explain these trends? Feel free to leave comments, suggestions, objections…

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