“A two-year research project funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council reported in 2017 on the ominous health of academic book publishing. As the number of titles sold rose by nearly half, from 43,000 to 63,000 between 2005 and 2014, unit sales in the same period for academic books fell 13%, from 4.34 million copies to 3.76 million annually, a drop of nearly 600,000. According to a report in the Times of London Higher Education Supplement, that drop meant average sales per title fell from 100 to 60 books.
Any effort to save scholarly monograph publishing will rely on usage data, though that remains hard to come by. With a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Book Industry Study Group and several other collaborators in the US and the UK recently undertook a review of factors holding back adoption of e-book monographs. The conclusion – granular and comparable data on users and usage of such works is needed to justify not only publishing programs, but also research activities….”