The number of new books published in Taiwan last year was the lowest in 18 years, a National Central Library report released on Saturday showed.
Last year, 36,810 new titles were published — 2,304, or 5.89 percent, fewer than in 2017, the report said, adding that last year was the first time since 2001 that the number of new titles published fell below 37,000.
The number of new titles published has decreased for two consecutive years, the library said, adding that there was a decline of 3.19 percent in 2018.
Photo courtesy of the National Central Library
From January to December last year, 4,952 publishers applied for International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) from the library, said the report, which is published annually based on ISBN applications and Cataloging in Publication (CIP) data.
Despite the downward trends, the number of new books published in some genres or categories grew, the report said, adding that the textbook, exam preparation and comics categories grew by 459, 397 and 241 respectively.
Publishing trends are closely connected to social changes, the library said.
The types of test prep book that saw the greatest increase last year were ones for national exams, technical certifications, exams for state-owned businesses and language certifications, reflecting the publishing industry’s response to society’s need for pragmatic matters, it said.
Based on applications for ISBN numbers, there were nearly 80 new books last year on the new Test of English for International Communication exam launched in 2018, it said.
With the implementation of new curriculum guidelines last year, many books on increasing literacy were introduced, while books aimed at improving the foundation of children’s knowledge drove an increase in the publication of children’s books, it said.
The presidential election was the most significant political or economic topic discussed last year, the library said, adding that more than 10 new books had candidates’ names in their titles.
Nearly 80 percent of the books published last year were written for adults, including regular readers and academics, the library said.
While the humanities and history genre had the most new titles last year at 4,269 — making up 11.6 percent of all new books published — it also saw a great decline compared with the previous year, the report said.
The genre with the second-most new books was children’s books at 3,887, followed by social science with 3,790 new titles, fiction with 3,497 and art with 2,806, the report showed.
Of the new titles published last year, 1,591, or 4.32 percent, were e-books, the report showed.
Although the number of new e-books dropped last year, Library Director-General Tseng Shu-hsien (曾淑賢) said that the digital reading trend could not be ignored.
Public library loan data from last year showed that loans of e-books grew by 46.55 percent, she said.
According to a Ministry of Culture study on the publishing industry, people are reading and spending more on e-books, she said.
With the COVID-19 outbreak causing people to spend less time outside, reading at home has become a good way to calm the mind, she added.
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