More Humanities Books

Study finds increase in number of new titles -- and their share of all new scholarly books.

December 7, 2015
Brian Howell, via Flickr

The number of scholarly books published in the humanities increased in 2013 to 54,273, from 51,789 in 2012. The new figure, from the Humanities Indicators project of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, is the highest number of new humanities titles in a year in the five years the project has been collecting the information. The number of humanities titles published in 2013 was 15 higher than the low point in the available data: 2011, with 47,124 new titles.

The increase in the number of humanities books published is important to humanities professors not only for the scholarship produced and shared, but for its impact on careers. While professional associations and many leaders of humanities disciplines have pushed departments to evaluate candidates for hiring and tenure on factors other than monographs published, the monograph remains "the gold standard" for evaluating humanities scholarship, a report from the Humanities Indicators project states.

The number of books in the humanities published each year far outpaces those in other disciplines (where the monograph is less central to scholarship and evaluation), and they accounted for 44.9 percent of all scholarly titles published in 2013. That's a two percentage point increase from the previous year. The following chart shows the shifts over the last five years, by disciplinary groups.

Scholarly Books Published in North America, by Disciplinary Groups

Within the humanities, the greatest number of books were published in literature, which saw 15,938 new scholarly books in 2009 and 18,942 in 2013. Literature was followed by history. The numbers of new books in religion and language and linguistics saw small declines in 2013.

New Books in Humanities Fields

A separate data report released today by the Humanities Indicators project looks at the price of new scholarly books.

The average price for the humanities scholarly books published in 2013 (in print) was $61.02 in 2013, the lowest average of any discipline. The most expensive was engineering, at $133.87.

Average Print Price for New Scholarly Books, 2013


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