Humanities Indicators
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Trends in Academic Books Published in the Humanities and Other Fields
(Updated December 2015)

Within the humanities, the monograph is still very much the “gold standard” for scholarly achievement, and thus trends in the publication of scholarly books serve as a particularly important barometer of the field’s health.[1] The graphs below depict the volume of new titles published in the humanities relative to other fields. They show that the number of new humanities titles is on the rise and that such titles represent almost half of all academic books published each year.

Findings and Trends

  • The number of new academic humanities titles published in North America increased slightly from 2012 to 2013, rising from 51,789 to 54,273—the highest level in five years of available data (Indicator IV-12a). The number of humanities titles published in 2013 was 15% higher than the low point in the available data of 47,124 new titles (in 2010).
  • In 2013, the humanities accounted for 44.9% of all new academic titles published in North America—a two percentage point increase from 2012 but slightly lower than the field’s share in 2009 (45.1%).
  • The humanities represent a substantial share of the new academic titles published (Indicator IV-12aa). In comparison to the more than 54,000 new titles published in the humanities in 2013, fewer than 14,000 new titles were published in each of the next closest fields—the behavioral and social sciences (13,848) and the natural sciences (13,450).
  • While the number of new academic titles published in the humanities increased almost 5% from 2012 to 2013, the number of titles published in the other fields declined, from 1.5% (in the behavioral and social sciences) to 6.3% in (medicine). Relative to 2009, however, the number of new academic titles published in every field was higher in 2013—and in most cases, had increased by more than in the humanities. While the number of academic humanities titles increased 11.7% from 2009 to 2013 (with the biggest rise occurring from 2010 to 2011), the number of titles in engineering and the behavioral and social sciences increased 19.8% and 15.0% respectively. (The much lower baseline for nonhumanities fields must to be taken into account when making such a comparison.)
  • The number of new titles in each of the eight humanities disciplines examined here was higher in 2013 than in 2009, and in five of the disciplines the number was more than 12% above the 2009 level (Indicator IV-12b; titles were categorized using the Library of Congress Classification of subjects). The relatively small discipline of archeology had the largest increase over that time period, rising 24.3% from 148 new titles to 184, but the relatively low baseline must be taken into account when comparing this discipline to others in the humanities. Among disciplines in which a greater number of books are traditionally published, literature saw the greatest increase (19%) in titles over the 2009–2013 time period.
  • As it has for four of the five years considered here, literature accounted for the largest share of new academic humanities books published in 2013, with 34.9% of the new titles in the field. The annual number of new titles in literature increased from 15,938 in 2009 to 18,942 in 2013.
  • The discipline of history had the second largest share of new titles in 2013, with 16,661 new titles accounting for 30.7% of the field’s total. The number of history titles rose and fell in alternating years, with a low of 15,730 in 2010 and a high of 16,871 in 2011.
  • In two humanities disciplines the number of new titles fell slightly from 2012 to 2013. The number of new titles in religion fell 0.3% (from 3,471 to 3,461), and the number published in language and linguistics fell 0.8% (from 4,419 to 4,382).
  • Similar to the history discipline, the number of new titles published in the academic study of the arts rose and fell in alternating years from 2009 to 2013, but the annual number increased over the full period from 5,296 to 5,746.
  • The number of new academic titles in philosophy increased slightly in every year studied, growing from 2,140 in 2009 to 2,446 in 2013.
IV-12a: New North American Academic Books on Humanities Subjects, 2009–2013*

* Books first published in either print or electronic format. Print titles include hardcover and paperback books. Please see the supplemental table for information on which disciplines were included in the broad field category of “Humanities.”

Source: Developed from a compilation by Stephen Bosch, University of Arizona, of data provided by Ingram Content Group (Coutts Information Services) and YBP Library Services.

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IV-12aa: New North American Academic Books, by Field, 2009–2013*

* Books first published in either print or electronic format. Print titles include hardcover and paperback books. Please see the supplemental table for information on which disciplines were included in the broad field categories used in the graph.

Source: Developed from a compilation by Stephen Bosch, University of Arizona, of data provided by Ingram Content Group (Coutts Information Services) and YBP Library Services.

About this DataRelated Indicators
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IV-12b: New North American Academic Books on Humanities Subjects, by Discipline, 2009–2013*

* Books first published in either print or electronic format. Print titles include hardcover and paperback books. The graph includes all categories in the Library of Congress Classification that refer to subject matter or disciplines that are within the humanities as the field is conceptualized for the purposes of the Humanities Indicators. See the supplemental table for details.

Source: Developed from a compilation by Stephen Bosch, University of Arizona, of data provided by Ingram Content Group (Coutts Information Services) and YBP Library Services.

About this DataRelated Indicators
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Endnotes

[1] See, for instance, Leigh Estabrook, with Bijan Warner, The Book as the Gold Standard for Tenure and Promotion in the Humanistic Disciplines (Chicago: Committee on Institutional Cooperation, 2007); and MLA Task Force on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion, Report of the MLA Task Force on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion (New York: Modern Language Association, 2006).