Bowker likes to claim that their ISBN book serial numbers (the ones that come with a free side of credit card fraud) can be used to count the number of indie titles published each year. This obviously isn't true, but their annual report is good for one thing.
It's a good way to track the decline and fall of Author Solutions, the vanity press that Penguin Scamdom House sold off in 2016. Given that all Author Solutions package deals include one, ISBN registrations is a good way to estimate its activity.
As I reported a couple years ago, Author Solutions has been in a decline since 2011. As indie authors rose, Author Solutions fell, until they were only registering half as many ISBNs in 2015 as they did in 2012.
And according to the Bowker report released last month, things have only gotten slightly better for Author Solutions in the past two years. Following a brief spike in ISBN registrations in 2016, Author Solutions' ISBN use fell in 2017 to within 5% or 6% of their figures for 2015.
Looking at the print and ebook charts, it's clear that the resurgence was entirely in ebooks. Author Solutions isn't registering nearly as many ebook ISBNs as they did at their peak, but they did register more in 2017 than in 2015.
While it is pleasing to watch a scammer's decline and fall, I'm still meeting a lot of authors at book fairs who were fleeced by Author Solutions.
Clearly there's a need for a more aggressive public awareness campaign.
Let me see what I can do about that.
P.S. Remember a couple weeks ago when I said I decided to start giving a damn again? This is me giving a damn.