This sudden interest in paid publishing numbers came about through a correspondence I was having with a friend in the publishing business. I guessed that the whole subsidy publishing business would top out at some point when all of the old manuscripts came out of the bottom drawers and got typed up, and a balance was reached between current author production and the willingness to pay fees for publication. Keep in mind that while everybody knew the term "vanity press" ten years ago, the new generation of subsidy presses have have cleverly defined themselves as "Self Publishing" companies. The new labeling works to their advantage because self publishing is a respectable profession at which many authors have earned a living, with some expanding their business into broader trade publishing operations. I don't know anybody who earns a living as a subsidy press author, though a small number have moved on to true self publishing or trade contracts. As to the endless supply of new authors, while everybody may have a book in them, relatively few will go to the trouble of writing and typing it.
The following numbers for the # titles per publisher per year are derived from the Advanced Search function on Amazon. It does not include titles that are not in the Amazon catalog. The publishers listed are those who have been around for years and publish over 1,000 titles per year, I'm sure there are others I've missed. It's also the first time I've stuck a table in Blogger, not very happy with the formatting:-)
Publisher / # Titles
The table shows the paid publishing market topping out in 2005/2006. The only real exception is the growth shown by Lulu, which had been running at 100% growth a year but looks to be less than 50% this year if the trends hold. Both AuthorHouse and PublishAmerica look to be the big market share losers to Lulu as paid publishing becomes a zero-sum game. iUniverse is only a little below trend, and Xlibris has been flat-lined for years now. I can't explain the 2006 number for Trafford, either they went on a marketing blitz that year or there's a glitch in the cataloging. None of these numbers have anything to say about true self publishing, authors who set up their own publishing company to publish and market their own books. But I thought it was kind of interesting that the "top" in subsidy publishing appears to have coincided with the top in the housing market!