A couple of weeks ago we received a pallet of hundreds of brand new copies of the latest title in the New Naturalist series, (Volume 116: Plant Pests), and in our latest Monthly Catalogue we are announcing new volumes in the popular Flora of China Illustrations and Flora of Tropical East Africa, amongst many others. All of these volumes made it straight into our top ten bestseller list.
This serious series activity prompted me to delve into our databases and find out some illuminating statistics concerning book series and volumes.
How many monographic series are there in the NHBS catalogue?
In 26 years of cataloguing, we have accumulated information on well over 6000 series and multi-volume sets. They range across many subject areas, from botany to birding, from conservation to climate.
Some of the series have sub-series, i.e. a series within a series. I have never really understood why this happens – presumably due to a given volume turning out to be more voluminous than planned? Sub-series certainly add to cataloguer’s stress levels!
At least half of all series are no longer active, i.e. no further volumes are expected to be published. Others have only one or two volumes in our subject range.
How many series do we check for new volumes?
We have developed a system for making sure that we don’t miss any volumes in important monographic series. 300 of our series have standing orders, so we check these regularly as a priority to make sure our standing order customers don’t miss out on any new volumes. We also check series by publisher, by subject matter, and by popularity.
In 2010, including the 62 new series, 341 series have had new volumes added, at an average rate of 2.5 volumes per series.
In all, for every series that had one or more new volumes added to our catalogue in 2010, we checked one more that proved to have no new additions.
Why do we spend so much time cataloguing series?
We want to continue to have the most comprehensive range of Natural History titles on the planet, and we are always on the look-out for new publications, regardless of whether they are part of a series or not.
But, just as importantly, if you, as our customer, have a standing order for a series with NHBS, we have a responsibility to keep the series updated. If we manage to find out about a new volume before publication, we save everybody a lot of time! And, as many new volumes are published with pre-publication special offers, it saves money, too.