Publishers’ Favorite Tools for Assessing Company Health

January 2010
by Marion Gropen

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TOOLBOX: METRICS

Publishers’ Favorite Tools for Assessing Company Health

by Marion Gropen

Last month’s article about metrics covered my three favorite tools for measuring the health of a publishing company—contribution margin, total overhead expenses, and rate of accuracy of your projections. At the end of that article, and in several other venues, I asked people in independent publishing companies to tell me what metrics they use.

Responses indicate that publishers’ favorite metrics include measures of sales, collections, contribution margins, cash flows, and Web statistics, and assessments of the type of customers buying books and of market share.

Sales

Publishers use many different metrics to examine sales. Mark Long, publisher of Texas State Technical College Publishing, reports that the company tracks its 40 to 45 titles with YTD (Year To Date) and quarterly reports of sales by customer, by title, and by frontlist vs. backlist. Then they look at the percentage of total sales that each title and customer represents.

This combination of metrics helps them see developing trends and fine-tune their list and their inventory.

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