The Size of Our Market

March 1998
by Curt Matthews, IPG/Chicago Review Press

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I and others who have been involved in the world of independent press publishing and distribution have been saying for the last couple of years that these are boom times for our part of the industry. I believe I even went so far as to claim we were living in the “golden age” of independent press publishing. Making a case for this view has been frustrating for two reasons. The large publishers dominate the publishing news, and they are not enjoying anything like a golden age. Their laments about skyrocketing author advances, hideous returns, canceled books, wholesale staff reductions, and flat sales have drowned out the much better news coming from the independents. The main frustration, however, has been the lack of hard numbers to demonstrate the growing importance and prosperity of independent publishing. Many small publishers and distributors could point to very impressive sales gains, but these were individual successes. No one was keeping track of the relative importance of big versus small publishers in general, so that a trend could be identified. Now we have some hard numbers. The following quotation is from a press release issued by Barnes & Noble in November of last year: Reflecting trends of the past several years, sales of best-sellers were less than 3% of company sales, while sales of titles from smaller publishers, independent and university presses continue to grow. Purchases from the top ten publishers declined to 46% of the total compared to 74% just tIBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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