Publishing’s Own Survival Show

August 2004
by Kent Sturgis

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While the big picture indicates that bookselling has been “flat” since 9/11, many midsize publishers–especially those relying heavily on trade markets or on niche customers hurt by the recession–have found the past few years to be anything but smooth.

Think of our collective experience getting through these lean years as material for a TV reality show about the survivors of book publishing. Would C-SPAN air it? We could score a foot-tapper by the Bee Gees from Saturday Night Fever (“Staying alive, staying alive . . . “). Better disco than a dirge.

Our ensemble cast comprises smart, hard-working publishers, attractive people all–and many of us a little eccentric too, but hey, save that topic for another column. Our diversity is our strength. Our story line has many twists and turns as we face the villains of declining sales, slow receivables, loss of vendor credit, cash-flow issues, lack of capital, layoffs, delayed or canceled projects, and–the final descent into publishing hell–bankruptcy.

Where would you cast yourself on this story line? Nowhere near the end, I hope!

Midsized publishers have dealt with all these issues. I have a sense the publishers hit hardest are staying alive and anticipating improved sales in 2004. (For the record, it should be said, many midsized publishers are doing fine, thank you.)

Bigger Companies’ Tactics for Tough Times

How have we coped?…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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