Bowker, the US bibliographic specialists, recently put out a press release with some book production figures for 2004.
It seems that there were some 195,000 books published in the USA last year. Of these, about 25,000 were adult fiction. And then you wondered why it was so hard to find anyone to publish your own book. Go figure.
Anyway, the small point that I want to draw attention to here is the increase in the length of the average work of fiction. Novels published by the large trade houses averaged 359 pages in 2004, which was an increase of 24 pages since 1995, and 43 pages since 1990.
Now, question. At this rate, how long will it be before the average hits 500 pages? What do you mean, you need a calculator.
Actually, by my calculation, if the increase continues at the same rate, we shall have an average of 500 pages in approximately forty years' time.
However long it takes, this increase is, in my view, completely unnecessary and also counter-productive. For details of why I hold that view, see the archives for my posts on The Problem of Length, beginning on 13 December last.