The 2012 London Olympics has prompted record levels of publishing activity focused on the Games, according to Bowker Books In Print®, a leading and reliable source of information on books and publishing metrics. One hundred twenty books – in print and e-versions –have been brought to market in 2012, eclipsing the previous record 109 titles released in 2008 in time for the Beijing Summer Games. Bowker is an affiliate of global information company ProQuest.
Reviewing publishing activity since 1996 shows consistent peaks in book production related to the Olympics during years with Summer Games, but not so for years containing Winter Games. For example, the Vancouver Games prompted 55 new titles in 2010.
“While the Winter Games’ impact on publishing is harder to track because of their February timing, we see a clear trend for Summer Games to spark a lot more publishing activity,” said Kelly Gallagher , vice-president, Bowker Market Research. “Popular sports combined with big personal medal counts, such as those of Michael Phelps ’, adds to the ability of publishers to capitalize on interest surrounding and sparked by the Games.”
Thirty-two books have been produced about American swimmer Michael Phelps – nine in 2008, escalating to 21 in 2009 after his multiple-medal wins in Beijing and then, a precipitous drop to two books in 2010. Publishing activity surrounding Phelps far exceeds that for Olympian Mark Spitz , who won seven swimming medals at the 1972 Munich Games and has two books written about him – Mark Spitz, by James T. Olsen, a juvenile work released in 1974 and Mark Spitz: The Extraordinary Life of an Olympic Champion by Richard J. Foster, which was published in 2008 when comparisons to Phelps raised interest in Spitz again.
Gallagher feels that advances in printing technology are contributing factors in the dramatic growth in publishing activity. “Comparing the number of books about Phelps versus Spitz is a great example of the impact on-demand printing has had in the creation of ‘instant’ books,’” said Gallagher. “Publishers can now prepare books, have them at the ready and if medal wins are big, produce them quickly to meet demand when it is at its highest.”