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State of the Computer Book Market, part 3 — The Publishers

In this third installment, (part one, part two and part four later this week), we will look at how Publishers fared in 2007 when compared to 2006. The chart below shows our dashboard view of the Large publishers’ results for 2007. The most notable change is that Wiley has assumed the leading spot as the largest publisher, with 29% market share of units sold. (We’ll look at revenue share later in the analysis.)

2006 Pub Share 2007 Pub Share
market_06.jpg market_07.jpg

One thing you’ll notice is that you may not recognize the names of all the top publishers, because they are actually conglomerates of many smaller publishing imprints that they’ve acquired or created over the years. The imprints are the familiar consumer-facing brands. For instance, when you purchase a book from Peachpit or Sams, you typically see Peachpit or Sams on the spine, not Pearson, even though Pearson owns both companies. One stand-out change is that Thomson and its computer-book-oriented imprints are now called Cengage.

So let’s look at the top Publishers and how they performed year over year. The following table provides some interesting comparative data.

Publisher ’06 Units ’07 Units ’06 Title Count ’07 Title Count ’06 Efficiency ’07 Efficiency
Pearson 2,285,184 2,014,514 2,133 1,974 1.00 0.99
Wiley 2,048,333 2,140,601 1,333 1,415 1.43 1.47
O’Reilly 1,246,579 1,143,279 807 818 1.44 1.36
Microsoft 712,905 791,340 315 327 2.11 2.35
McGraw Hill 368,055 358,699 388 404 0.89 0.86
Cengage 231,032 212,680 558 610 0.39 0.34
Apress 202,642 235,591 297 336 0.64 0.68
Reed Elsevier 124,738 157,157 313 356 0.37 0.43
Sum/Avg 7,219,468 7,053,861 6,144 6,240 1.03 1.06

So what is notable from this data? First that these large publishers are down about 165k units from 2006 to 2007. So that means that in 2007 we experienced our modest market growth from the middle-to-small publishers even though the large houses published nearly 100 more titles and had slightly better efficiency. Wiley gained market share while getting more titles into the top 3000 and with slightly better efficiency. Pearson lost market share and had 159 fewer titles make the top 3000 and experienced a very slight drop in efficiency. O’Reilly had about 100k fewer units on 11 more titles making the top 3000; our efficiency took a hit as a result but remained well above the efficiency average. (We actually published about 60 fewer titles than in 2006, so the fact that we had 11 more in the top 3000 was a surprise to us.)

A note on Market Share versus Title Efficiency

A typical indicator of publisher performance is market share of units sold, which is what we’ve been looking at so far. Perhaps a better measure is how many titles published it takes to get a comparable share of unit sales. This is the ratio of title share to unit market share. Think about it this way: if a publisher has 15% of the titles appearing in the Bookscan Top 3000, and gets a 15% share of units sold, they will have a ratio of 1:1, expressed as a title efficiency of 1.0. A publisher with 20% of the title share, and 10% of the unit share would have a .5 efficiency. An efficiency of 1 is the market average: 100% of the title count delivering 100% of the unit sales. A publisher that achieves its share with fewer titles will have a higher ratio. Publishers under the 1.0 threshold typically have many titles in the bookscan data, but they are just not selling many units. For the top 8 publishers that means that Microsoft Press, Wiley and O’Reilly are the only three above the efficiency average.

So let’s take a look inside of Pearson, Wiley, and O’Reilly and separate out their imprints. In the case of Pearson and Wiley, most of their imprints are wholly owned subsidiaries. In O’Reilly’s case, all of our imprints other than “O’Reilly” and “Pogue Press” are actually distribution partners. These are independent publishers for whom O’Reilly does retail sales and distribution to bookstores.

These next charts are drill-ins on the top three “publishers.” Click on any chart to get a bigger image.

Pearson Wiley
pearson_2007.jpg wiley_2007.jpg
O’Reilly Media
orm_2007.jpg

Now that you have an idea of the imprints that make up the largest three publishers, let’s throw all the imprints together and then look at their respective market share. The following table shows the top 8 “imprints” and how they stack up against each other. From this imprint-view, you’ll notice that O’Reilly has the third largest market share behind “Dummies” and Microsoft Press.

Top 10 11-20
top_ten.jpg second_ten.jpg

So what do these two publisher-disambiguation graphs tell us? The first notable thing is that McGraw-Hill has climbed into the top ten with a 7% share among the bigger imprints and displaced Prentice-Hall in doing so. Microsoft Press moves ahead of O’Reilly at this Imprint level even though O’Reilly had a larger market share at the Publisher level (as indicated above).

Before we move on to the categories and the imprints that dominate them, let’s revisit the data with dollars rather than units. We have a fairly easy way of calculating this: units sold * list_price = dollars. In reality there are discounts, promotions, and other things that make this not a precise number, but through a statistical fluke that is explained in the initial posting about our Bookscan data mart, these factors are offset by the share of the market that Bookscan actually measures, and the final result is reasonably close to the publisher receipts from retail channels. (It doesn’t include any copies sold directly through the publisher or alternate, non-retail channels.) If nothing else you can think of this as “Retail-Value.” With these caveats, let’s look at the top publishing imprints from a revenue perspective.

The leader-board quickly changes. Microsoft Press becomes the number one revenue producing imprint, followed by O’Reilly. Apress, Cengage and Reed Elsevier disappeared from the top eight in this Imprint view and Peachpit, Sams and Addison Wesley climbed into the top eight. Peachpit is the top ranking revenue producer for the Pearson empire and For Dummies is the top producer for the Wiley conglomerate.

Imprint Dollars Imprint Dollars
Microsoft $39,272,170 Addison Wesley $14,730,363
O’Reilly $37,118,610 Wiley $13,844,605
For Dummies $32,704,415 McGraw Hill $13,182,949
Peachpit $19,452,251 Sams $12,027,800

Imprint Analysis by Category

Now that have seen what imprints are doing, let’s take a look at which categories each of the imprints publishes in and where their strengths lay. Dummies and O’Reilly appear to have the most diverse publishing programs as they are not at the bottom in any category. Dummies is clearly the leader in Business Apps and Consumer Operating Systems, while O’Reilly and Microsoft are neck and neck in the Systems and Programming category. Microsoft Press gets its advantage over O’Reilly as the second largest imprint mainly due to its strength in Business Applications even though they are completely missing from the Digital Media area.

Publishers’ Category Strength
imprint_cats.jpg

Categories and the Publishers who dominate them

The following category images are for 2007 and the publisher share of titles based on units. The top titles listed for each area, listed below, are also for 2007.

Category: Systems and Programming

In this category you can see that Pearson has the largest market share among the publishers with O’Reilly second. If we drill into the imprint level, the picture changes a bit. The top five imprints are O’Reilly at 16% share, Microsoft Press at 15%, Addison-Wesley at 8%, Sams at 7%, and Dummies at 7%.

SysProg_Imprint.png

As you can see in the table below, Pearson and Wiley’s market share is primarily driven by title count, whereas Microsoft Press sells twice as many units per title — they are the most efficient publisher in this space. O’Reilly’s performance is a mix of both. That is, we have quite a few titles, but our efficiency is also significantly above the market average.

sys & prog – Publisher Market Share ( 01/01/2007 – 12/31/2007 )

Publisher Units Title Count Units/Title Efficiency
Pearson 666,389 970 687 0.94
O’Reilly 500,594 445 1,125 1.54
Wiley 442,625 531 834 1.14
Microsoft 335,639 180 1,865 2.56
McGraw Hill 131,871 208 634 0.87
Apress 88,729 161 551 0.76
Cengage 61,804 210 294 0.40
Reed Elsevier 44,152 185 239 0.33

Note: This category family contains Microsoft developer technology, which represent 5 of the top 10 for the category. The leading Titles and Publishers for Systems and Programming in 2007 were:

  1. RMC’s PMP Exam Prep: Rita’s Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam
  2. Wiley’s Access 2003 All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies
  3. Microsoft Press’s Microsoft Office Access 2003 Step by Step
  4. Microsoft Press’s Windows Vista
  5. O’Reilly’s Head First Java
  6. Wiley’s Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies

Category: Web Design and Development

In this category you can see that Pearson has the largest market share among the publishers with O’Reilly second. If we drill into the imprint level, the picture changes a bit. The top five imprints are O’Reilly and Peachpit at 17% share, For Dummies at 11%, Sams at 7%, and Apress at 5%.

WebDes_Imprint.png

As you can see in the table below, Pearson has the most titles, and with Peachpit’s healthy title efficiency, their performance is strong in this category. In this category, most of the top publishers are above the title efficiency average of 1.0. (This suggests that there are a lot of second-tier publishers with lower efficiency who don’t show up in the table.)

web des & dev – Publisher Market Share ( 01/01/2007 – 12/31/2007 )

Publisher Units Title Count Units/Title Efficiency
Pearson 418,936 264 1,587 1.26
O’Reilly 306,410 166 1,846 1.46
Wiley 276,966 200 1,385 1.1
Apress 107,116 123 871 0.69
Microsoft 40,376 27 1,495 1.19

The leading Titles and Publishers for Web Design and Development are:

  1. Peachpit’s HTML, XHTML, and CSS: Visual Quickstart
  2. New Rider’s Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
  3. O’Reilly’s Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML
  4. Wiley’s Building Web Sites All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies
  5. Pragmatic’s Agile Web Development with Rails
  6. O’Reilly’s JavaScript: The Definitive Guide

Category: Business Applications

In this category you can see that Wiley has the largest market share among the publishers with Pearson second. If we drill into the imprint level, the picture changes a bit. The top five imprints are For Dummies at 27% share, Microsoft Press at 18%, McGraw Hill at 7%, Que at 6%, and Peachpit at 6%.

bizapps_Imprint.png

As you can see in the table below, Wiley has the most titles to help keep their market share; with For Dummies’ excellent title efficiency, their performance is strong in this category. Microsoft Press also has a very healthy title efficiency. But the category seems to be a tough one on title efficiency for five of the top publishers.

bus apps – Publisher Market Share ( 01/01/2007 – 12/31/2007 )

Publisher Units Title Count Units/Title Efficiency
Wiley 692,352 334 2,073 1.72
Pearson 320,740 306 1,048 0.87
Microsoft 287,292 95 3,024 2.51
McGraw Hill 129,590 84 1,543 1.28
O’Reilly 60,492 73 829 0.69
Cengage 35,540 178 200 0.17
Apress 32,145 32 1,005 0.83

The leading Titles and Publishers for Business Applications are:

  1. Wiley’s eBay For Dummies
  2. McGraw Hill’s QuickBooks 2007 The Official Guide
  3. Wiley’s Excel 2003 for Dummies
  4. Wiley’s Microsoft Office 2007 All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies
  5. Microsoft’s Microsoft Office Excel 2003 Step by Step
  6. Wiley’s QuickBooks 2007 For Dummies

Category: Consumer Operating Systems

In this category you can see that Wiley has the largest market share among the publishers with Pearson in second at 13% and O’Reilly has moved ahead of Microsoft Press in the third spot. (Apologies: the Pearson % is cut off in the graph.) If we drill into the imprint level, the picture changes a bit. The top five imprints are , For Dummies at 24% share, O’Reilly at 22%, Microsoft Press at 9%, Pogue Press at 6%, and Que at 6%.

conOps_Imprint.png

As you can see in the table below, Wiley has the most titles and a relatively good efficiency rating. Microsoft Press also has a very healthy title efficiency rate. O’Reilly is the only other publisher with an efficiency rating higher than the market average.

cons opsys & dev – Publisher Market Share ( 01/01/2007 – 12/31/2007 )

Publisher Units Title Count Units/Title Efficiency
Wiley 494,539 146 3,387 1.47
Pearson 167,720 119 1,409 0.61
O’Reilly 148,239 46 3,223 1.40
Microsoft 127,165 21 6,055 2.63
McGraw Hill 67,636 50 1,353 0.59
Cengage 51,336 49 1,048 0.46

The leading Titles and Publishers for Consumer Operating Systems are:

  1. Wiley’s Windows Vista For Dummies
  2. Microsoft’s Windows Vista
  3. O’Reilly’s Mac OS X Tiger: The Missing Manual
  4. Wiley’s Windows Vista All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies
  5. Wiley’s Windows XP For Dummies
  6. Microsoft’s Windows Vista Inside Out

Category:Digital Media

In this category you can see that Wiley has the largest market share among the publishers with Pearson and Microsoft Press tied for second at 13%. (Apologies: the Pearson % is cut off in the graph.) If we drill into the imprint level, the picture changes a bit. The top five imprints are Peachpit at 25%, For Dummies at 11% share, Adobe Press at 9%, Focal Press at 9%, and New Riders at 9%.

DigMedia_Imprint.png

As you can see in the table below, Wiley has the most titles and a relatively good efficiency rating. Microsoft Press also has a very healthy title efficiency rate. O’Reilly is the only other publisher with an efficiency rating higher than the market average.

digital media – Publisher Market Share ( 01/01/2007 – 12/31/2007 )

Publisher Units Title Count Units/Title Efficiency
Pearson 410,051 248 1,653 1.37
Wiley 190,555 154 1,237 1.03
O’Reilly 104,428 52 2,008 1.67
Reed Elsevier 83,798 86 974 0.81
Cengage 47,061 109 432 0.36

The leading Titles and Publishers for Digital Media are:

  1. Peachpit’s The iPod Book: Doing Cool Stuff with the iPod and the iTunes Store
  2. New Rider’s The Photoshop Elements 5 Book for Digital Photographers
  3. Adobe Press’s Adobe Photoshop CS3 Classroom in a Book
  4. New Rider’s The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book for Digital Photographers
  5. Wiley’s iPod & iTunes For Dummies
  6. Adobe Press’s Adobe Photoshop CS2 Classroom in a Book

Next Up, The Languages

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  • joe

    Does this data contain textbook sales? Isn’t the textbook business much larger than this?

  • http://www.shadowmagic.org.uk/ Philip Kendall

    Trivially, the captions for the first two graphics are the wrong way round.

  • Alex Tolley

    O’Reilly has tried to associate itself with leading edge technologies. Is there any evidence that when one looks at growth subjects, e.g. Ruby on Rails a few years ago, that O’Reilly has a greater leadership position in this space, which may then decline as larger houses latch onto the trend and start publishing?

    Perhaps a tree map view to show O’Reilly’s position in growing, static and declining topics?

  • http://grandcanyonhiker.com Ken McNamara

    I don’t know much about the state of computer book publishing – but I do know when I’m look for a title – I scan for the O’Reilly titles first.

    That’s certainly the quickest way to find the best book on the subject, then work down from there.

  • http://www.juegosenmovil.com/free/freegames.php FreeMobileGames

    A good new sector to work in. Interesting.