Book publishing has accelerated as an industry in the last few decades with the steady growth of computer technology and new publishing techniques like digital information systems and the Internet. According to figures released by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), net sales for the entire United States publishing industry are estimated to have increased by 1.3 percent from 2003 to 2004 to a grand total of $23.72 billion. This clearly indicates the publishers or the book publishing companies are reaping the benefits of the trade.
Most of the publishers or the book publishing companies usually control the advertising and marketing tasks and sub-contract the editorial and production process to small businesses, as book publishers rarely own printing presses and binderies. This trend, known as ‘book packaging,’ is gaining momentum as retail book chains and supermarkets have centralized their buying.
Although, the publishing industry is teeming with many book publishers, some of the well-known names in the industry are: McGraw Hills Companies, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group, Reed Elsevier, W.W. Norton & Company Inc., Macmillan Publishers Ltd., Longman Publishers USA, Pearson to name a few. These companies publish material on diverse topics ranging from entertainment, fiction, non-fiction, management, art, architecture, photography to day to day issues like cooking, pet care, gardening, etc.
Recently, Western publishing industry has been shrouded with controversy as large business houses have bought or merged a significant number of key publishing houses and bookstores to create a monopoly in the market. This has resulted in an increased concentration of well-known authors to augment the market share of bestsellers. The growing commercialization in the publishing industry has become a matter of concern not only for critics but also for writers in general.