Skip to content Skip to navigation Skip to collection information

OpenStax-CNX

You are here: Home » Content » The State of Scholarly Publishing in the History of Art and Architecture » Art History Publishing

Navigation

Recently Viewed

This feature requires Javascript to be enabled.
 

Art History Publishing

Module by: Lawrence McGill. E-mail the author

To quantify trends in art history publishing, data were collected on the total number of art history-related titles published annually by university presses between 1985 and 2005, as listed in the Bowker Global Books in Print database, the most comprehensive source of data on books published in the United States. (For more information about this database and the search methods used to identify relevant titles, please see Appendix A.) In addition, more than 3,000 art history-related titles published by eight key university presses during the same 20-year period were reviewed on a title-by-title basis in order to track the number of single-author works and museum-related works published by these eight presses. Background data were also collected on publishing trends in general at U.S. and university presses.

In 2004, the U.S. book industry took in revenues of more than $9.5 billion across all market categories. Art books accounted for 2.6% of these revenues, or about $185 million. (Data for art history books as a subcategory of "art" are not available, but they probably represent about 20% of revenues in the art book category.)

Figure 1: (Click on graphic for enlarged view.)
Figure 1 (USArtBkProd1993-2004.png)

There were more than 6,500 art-related titles published in 2004, or about 3.7% of the total output of the U.S. book industry. The number of art books published annually in the U.S. has increased by 69% since 1993, consistent with the overall increase in the number of books published in all categories since 1993 (74%).

About 20 percent of the art-related titles published in 2004 could be classified as "art history" titles, based on a search of the Bowker Global Books in Print database. From this search, it is estimated that about 1,330 art history titles were published annually between 2000 and 2004 by all U.S. presses. Of these, about 390 titles per year (or about 30%) were published by university presses.

While the bulk of "art history" titles appear to be published by nonacademic presses, this report focuses primarily on the output of university presses, for the following reasons:

  • A major concern of this project is to assess current opportunities for art historians to publish scholarly monographs, especially first books. While many books published by nonacademic presses may be classifiable as "art history," most scholarly books tend to be published by university presses.
  • Where a book gets published matters a great deal insofar as professional advancement is concerned. In reviewing candidates for tenure or promotion, academic committees tend to give far more weight to books published by academic presses than they do to books published by nonacademic presses. Hence, university presses tend to be the primary outlet for art history scholars seeking publication.

In 2004, university presses published an estimated 14,500 titles. Of these, 472 (or 3.3%) were arts-related. Unlike the rest of the publishing industry (the output of which has increased by 74% since 1993), the number of arts-related titles published by university presses has not changed much since the mid-1990s. In 1995, for example, university presses published 471 titles in the arts, virtually identical to their output in 2004. There was a short-lived period of growth in the number of arts-related titles published between 1993 and 2000 (from 418 to 565 per year, an increase of 35%). But between 2000 and 2004, the number of arts-related titles published by university presses declined by 16%.

Figure 2: (Click on graphic for enlarged view.)
Figure 2 (UniPressArtBkProd1993-2004.png)

This pattern of growth followed by a slight decline is mirrored in the overall output of university presses across all subject categories. Overall output rose by 24% from 1993 to 2000, but declined by 2% between 2000 and 2004. (By comparison, the overall output of all nonacademic U.S. publishers increased by more than 50% between 2000 and 2004; see chart below.)

Figure 3: (Click on graphic for enlarged view.)
Figure 3 (USBkProd1993-2004.png)

What about art history-related titles, specifically? While "art history" titles make up only about 20 percent of all arts-related titles across all U.S. presses, they account for the majority of arts-related titles published by academic presses. As of late 2005, the Bowker database listed some 15,145 arts-related titles that had been published by university presses since the database was established in the late 1960s. Of these, 8,146 (or 54%) were subclassified as "art history"-related.

At university presses that specialize in art history-related publishing, the percentage of "art history"-related titles is even higher. On average, such titles account for nearly three-quarters (74%) of all arts-related titles published at the following eight presses: Cambridge University, MIT Press, Penn State University, Princeton University, the University of California, the University of Chicago, the University of Washington, and Yale University.

Again, mirroring overall trends in university press output, the number of art history-related titles published by academic presses increased fairly significantly during the 1990s, but has slowed down since 2000. Between 1985 and 2004, university presses published a total of 6,095 art history-related titles (according to the Bowker database).

Figure 4: (Click on graphic for enlarged view.)
Figure 4 (ArtHistPubsAll1985-2004.png)

Broken out by five-year periods (beginning with 1985-89), the number of art history-related titles climbed from 946 in the late 1980s to 1,356 in the early 1990s (an increase of 43%), then to 1,844 in the late 1990s (up 36% over the previous period), and finally to 1,949 between 2000 and 2004 (up 6%). University presses have gone from publishing an average of about 269 art history-related titles per year during the early 1990s to publishing an average of 390 titles per year ten years later.

In 2004, university presses published a total of 391 art history titles, according to the Bowker database, in line with the five-year average of 390 titles per year published between 2000 and 2004. Yale University Press accounted for about 18 percent of the total output of art history titles from university presses in 2004, publishing 72 books in the field. The top six university presses in the field – Yale (72), Cambridge (35), California (29), Oxford (28), MIT (21), and Washington (18) – produced more than half (52%) of all titles published in art history in 2004. Eight presses published ten or more books in art history in 2004 – the six just mentioned, plus Chicago (13) and Penn State (12). Nineteen presses published five or more art history titles in 2004. Altogether, 71 university presses published in the field in 2004.

Data for 2005 indicate that the total number of art history titles published by university presses actually rose slightly to 410 (up 5% from the 2000-04 average). Again, Yale led the field with 62 titles published (16% of all art history titles published by university presses in 2005). The top six publishers in 2005 – namely Yale (62), Cambridge (38), Oxford (24), California (23), MIT (23), and Princeton (18) – accounted for 48% of all art history titles published, compared to 52% in 2004. Nine presses published ten or more art history books in 2005 – the aforementioned six, plus the University Press of New England (13), the University of Washington (13), and Penn State (11). Seventeen presses published five or more art history titles in 2005. Altogether, 86 university presses published in the field in 2005.

As of late 2005, the Bowker database identified the following publishers as the most prolific university presses, historically, in the field of art history (based on the entire database, across all years):

  1. Yale University Press – 1,092 titles (13.4% of total)
  2. Cambridge University Press – 713 titles (8.8%)
  3. Oxford University Press – 685 titles (8.4%)
  4. MIT Press – 488 titles (6.0%)
  5. University of Washington Press – 461 titles (5.7%)
  6. University of California Press – 429 titles (5.3%)
  7. University of Chicago Press – 402 titles (4.9%)
  8. Princeton University Press – 379 titles (4.7%)

These eight presses account for about 57% of all art history titles (estimated at 8,143) published by university presses since the late 1960s. As of 2005, all eight remained among the top ten university-based publishers in the field (although Cambridge University Press announced in 2005 that it will be contracting its art history publications by 50 percent or more).

Single-author works. As noted before, a major concern of this project is to assess current opportunities for art historians to publish single-author scholarly monographs, especially first books. In order to gauge how such opportunities may be changing, more than 3,000 art history-related titles published by eight key university presses between 1985 and 2004 were reviewed on a title-by-title basis in order to track the number of single-author works published by these presses over time. The university presses included in this analysis (and where they ranked in terms of total output of art history titles in 2005) were Yale University Press (1), Cambridge University Press (2), the University of California Press (3), MIT Press (4), Princeton University Press (5), the University of Washington Press (8), Penn State University Press (9t) and the University of Chicago Press (9t).

[It should be noted that titles were coded simply as either "single-author works" or not. Since the coders were not specialists in art history, it cannot be assumed that all titles coded as single-author works are specifically "single-author scholarly monographs." Most are, but a number of them would probably not have qualified as such had the analysis been carried out at a deeper level. While the overall trends revealed by this analysis (that is, the relative upward or downward changes in the number of titles published over time) are not likely to be affected by this lack of precision in the data, the total numbers of "single-author works" reported will tend to be higher than the actual number of "single-author scholarly monographs" published by these presses.]

The total number of art history-related titles (both single-author works and otherwise) published by these eight presses between 1985 and 2004 grew steadily from 1985 through 1999, but leveled off between 2000 and 2005 (as shown by the middle columns in the chart below). Between the late 1980s and the late 1990s, the average annual output of art history titles at these presses doubled, rising from an average of 95 titles per year to 191 titles per year. Between 2000 and 2004, the average number of art history titles published by these presses was 199 per year, an increase of just 4% from the period 1995-99.

Figure 5: (Click on graphic for enlarged view.)
Figure 5 (ArtHistPubs8Key1985-2004.png)

The number of single-author works published by these presses over the past 20 years followed a similar pattern (as shown by the right-most columns in the chart). These presses produced an average of 63 single-author works per year in art history during the late 1980s, compared to an average of 121 such works per year during the late 1990s, an increase in output of 92%. But the average number of single-author works published by these presses during 2000 to 2004 dropped to 117 per year, a decrease in output of 3%.

So, while the overall pattern of single-author works published over time looks generally the same as the overall pattern of art history titles published over time, it has actually lagged slightly behind the pace at which art history titles in general have been produced at these presses. Between 1985 and 1989, single-author works represented about two-thirds (68%) of all art history titles published by these presses. By the late 1990s (1995-99), that number had dropped to 64%. And between 2000 and 2004, they accounted for 59% of all art history titles published by these presses.

One hypothesis that might be advanced to explain this change in publishing practices at these eight presses is that they may be publishing a larger percentage of museum-related works now than they used to. But while the absolute number of museum-related works published by these eight presses has increased over time, from about 7 per year between 1985 and 1989 to about 19 per year between 2000 and 2004 (driven almost entirely by Yale), museum-related titles account for about the same percentage of all art history titles published today (9%) as they did back in the late 1980s (7%).

According to our analysis, the top producer of "single-author works" in art history over the past 20 years (1985-2004) has been Yale University Press, accounting for 487 of the 1,990 single-author works produced by these eight publishers. Cambridge University Press published 367 single-author works over that period, followed by MIT Press (253) and the University of Chicago Press (221). The University of Washington Press also published more than 200 single-author works during this 20-year period (206).

With the anticipated retrenchment of Cambridge University Press as a publisher of art history-related titles, the field stands to forego the publication of about a dozen single-author works per year (based on Cambridge's average annual output since 1995), unless another press steps forward to pick up the slack.

Collection Navigation

Content actions

Download:

Collection as:

PDF | EPUB (?)

What is an EPUB file?

EPUB is an electronic book format that can be read on a variety of mobile devices.

Downloading to a reading device

For detailed instructions on how to download this content's EPUB to your specific device, click the "(?)" link.

| More downloads ...

Module as:

PDF | More downloads ...

Add:

Collection to:

My Favorites (?)

'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks

Module to:

My Favorites (?)

'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks