This is interesting news:
U.S. book production rose and fell in 2008, according to preliminary statistics released this morning by Bowker. The number of new and revised titles produced by traditional production methods fell 3% in 2008, to 275,232, but the number of on-demand and short run titles soared 132%, to 285,394. The on-demand and short run segment is the method typically used by self-publishers as well as online publishers. With the decline in the number of traditional books released last year and the jump in on-demand, the number of on-demand titles topped those of traditional books for the first time.
Of course, the actual sales of these two categories are out of whack - with on-demand sales a fraction of traditional ones. But as the web begins to offer options to buy books outside the old model - e-books, on-demand books - authors may begin to see the kind of opening that the web once offered via blogs.