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Appendix A: Trends in Art History Publishing

Module by: Lawrence McGill. E-mail the author

Data on the numbers of books published in the field of art history over time were obtained from the Bowker Global Books in Print database (www.globalbooksinprint.com). Additional data on book industry trends were obtained from Simba Information (www.simbanet.com/), Bookwire (www.bookwire.com), and the Association of American University Presses (http://aaupnet.org/).

The Bowker Global Books in Print database is the database of record for U.S. books in print, as it has served as the official ISBN agency to the United States since 1968. In effect, any book that is assigned an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) becomes a part of the database. At present, the database contains detailed information on more than 12.5 million in-print, out-of-print, and forthcoming books, audio books, and videos from more than 40 countries.

All titles in the database are classified under multiple subject headings, using detailed classification schemes devised by Bowker, BISAC (the Book Industry Systems Advisory Committee), and BIC (the Book Industry Communication group). The database is searchable using each of these classification schemes, or it may be searched using all three schemes (for maximum inclusiveness).

To search the Bowker database, the user chooses specific settings across a set of more than a dozen data filters that systematically winnow the data so that only relevant titles are displayed in the search results. The settings chosen to track art history titles over time were as follows:

  • In the first search field, "Publisher Name" was selected, and all books where the publisher's name included the word "university" were included in the search. A secondary search was necessary to make sure that all relevant art history books published by MIT Press were also included in the final counts; instead of specifying "university" in the "Publisher Name" field, the letters "MIT" were specified.
  • In the second, third, and fourth search fields, "Subject-(all)" was selected. This allowed titles to be searched across all three subject classification schemes at the same time (Bowker, BISAC and BIC), using three specific key words (one for each search field). In the second search field, the key word "art" was searched for, and in the third field, the term "history" was searched for. Using these two terms yielded results that included all titles for which both the word "art" and the word "history" appeared in at least one of the three subject classification schemes. But because a number of titles returned by this search were in fact books dealing with "military arts," the fourth search field was used to filter out all titles where the term "military" was included as a subject descriptor.
  • In the "Market" field, "United States" was selected, to limit the output to books marketed in the United States.
  • In the "Country of Publication" field, "United States" was selected.
  • In the "Language" field, "English" was selected, so that only English-language works were captured by the search.
  • In the "Format" field, "Book" was selected, so that audio and video products would not be included.
  • In the "Subject Limiter" field, "Non-fiction" was selected.
  • In the "Audience" field, "Adult" was selected, so that any titles written specifically for young adults or children would not be included in the results.
  • The final data filter used to generate year-by-year lists of art history titles published by university presses was the "Publication Year" field. By entering an appropriate range of years, e.g., "2000 to 2004" or "2005 to 2005," all titles published within the specified range would be retrieved.

The output of the search results was a title-by-title list of all books captured using the search strategy. For each book listed, the following information was provided: Title, Author, Contributor(s), Publisher, ISBN, Format, Date of Publication, Price, Market, Availability, LC Classification #, Dewey #, and ISBN 13 (the expanded 13-digit ISBNs that just went into effect). Information in the "Author" and "Contributor(s)" fields was used by the researchers to further classify each title produced by eight university presses between 1985 and 2004 as either a "single-author work" or not, and as a "museum-related work" or not.

Data on size of market categories and estimated book industry revenues across subject categories in 2004 were provided by Simba Information (Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2005, Simba Information: Stamford, CT, 2005), a division of R. R. Bowker. Trend data (1993-2004) on total book production by subject category for all U.S. presses (as a group) and for all university presses (as a group) were provided by Bookwire (http://www.bookwire.com/), also a division of R.R. Bowker. (See, in particular, http://www.bookwire.com/decadebookproduction.html and http://www.bookwire.com/university.html.)

Trend data on the output of university presses over time were provided by the Association of American University Presses, which publishes an annual Directory containing information about each of its 125 member presses (as of 2004-05). Title outputs for the most recent two years are reported for each press listed in the Directory. By consulting the directories from 1987-88 through 2004-05, it was possible to construct a database containing total title output for all AAUP member presses across that period of time. Since not all university presses are members of AAUP, it is not possible to use AAUP data to analyze the total output of all university presses over time. But it is possible to examine trends in the total title output of specific university presses over time.

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