From the New Releases Files — some numbers

source: The Morgue Files

Today is Labor Day. Which means many of you took a day off from work or school – or maybe, school starts tomorrow!  Either way, today might be a good day for thinking about…books. Yes?

As one of the two-member super-team who puts together our list of new releases every month, I’m always excited to know what’s coming out and when.  Great books come out nearly every month.  Sometimes with fanfare, sometimes as quietly as a mouse.  Out of curiosity I went back over our last year or so of new releases at the Mixed-Up Files to see if there might be a pattern. In which month did the most number books come out? The least? What were the most popular genres, and what were some of the trends?

So today, for your Labor-Day reading pleasure, here are some of my findings. Bear in mind, this is non-scientific, based on a little over a year of reported titles at MUF (which may not reflect the complete list of titles that released over the past twelve months. We try our best but hey, we’re human).  Still, we can take a look at some general observations.

The most number of book releases were in October and April of this year, and surprisingly August, 2010. These are months that saw Newbery winners like Moon Over Manifest (October), and well-publicized books like The Emerald Atlas (April) and Ook and Gluk (August).

May 2011 turned out to be a month of award-winning  writers: Jeanne Birdsall came out with her much anticipated The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, a sequel to the National Book Award winner, The Penderwicks. May also included Newbery Honor winner Gail Carson Levine’s A Tale of Two Castles, Newbery Honor and Caldecott recipient Kevin Henkes’ Junonia, and Newbery Honor winner, Kirby Larson’s The Friendship Doll.

Series were big. In any given month, they comprised anywhere from a fourth to a half of the releases. Over the past twelve months, there have been more than 120 series-related books.  Some series that launched since last summer include Samarai Kids, The Familiars, Kat, Incorrigible, and The Emerald Atlas.

Fantasy were equally big, and represented anywhere from a third to a half of the total releases per month. Fantasies were strongest in October, November, and April, which were also months with the largest volumes. Books like Philippa Fisher and the Fairy’s Promise, Juniper Berry, andThe Emerald Atlas,  all released during these months.

Interestingly, straight mysteries (with no elements of fantasy/magic/paranormal) were less frequent, but last September saw the release of Walls Within Walls, Museum of Thieves, and this September, Wonderstruck – the new illustrated novel from Brian Selznick.

The slowest month of the year was December. Last December saw about half the number of average releases over the rest of the year.

Multicultural books were still a rare breed. Over the past 12 months, there have been about 12 titles, 4 of them in August, 3 in February, while several months saw none at all. Some titles that came out included: The Star Maker, The Detention Club, and Stir It Up: A Novel.

Contemporary titles were most popular in October, November, February, March, and April, and included Because of Mr. Terupt, The Fourth Stall, We Could Be Brothers, and Small as an Elephant.

For those who like numbers (totals are taken from 6/10 – 9/10):

393 – Total number of books listed on MUF

August 2010 – Month with the highest number of releases

December 2010 – Month with the lowest number of releases

147 – Total fantasy books

80 – Total contemporary

57  – Total mystery/adventure

12 – Total multicultural

122 – Total series

What does this all mean? Well, books can come out at different times for different reasons. There is no one formula that works for every book.  As a reader, you can expect more fantasy in the summer months, more literary and contemporary in the fall and spring, and some of the new debut authors, multicultural books, or beginning series in August or early spring. As a writer, you can’t read too much into the season your book is slated for, but you can know that when a book comes out is usually a combination of planning and happy (or not) circumstance.

I will be curious to see how these numbers change a year from now.  There’s this funny thing about trends and numbers. They change.

But in the meanwhile,  happy reading. And if you don’t know already, a slew of books are waiting for you this month. Here – go look.