The Tao of Small:
70,000-Odd Small Publishers Might Be Wagging the Publishing Dog

June 2003
by Jeff Byles

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They’re out there–all 73,000 of them–scrabbling for big publishers’ shelf-space, mucking up their mindshare. That’s the number of book publishers in the U.S., according to Bowker’s Books in Print database, and it has nearly doubled in the past decade. Blame the go-go ’90s, the dawn of dummy-proof desktop publishing, Internet ubiquity, come-one-come-all chain bookselling, and the growing, mystical aura of ISBNs themselves. Every year, 11,000 new publishers apply for these must-have digits, be they start-ups girding for the long haul or one-book wonders. And this motley contingent, believe it or not, may be keeping the business of books afloat.

“We’ve found ourselves in what I think is the only growth area in the book business,” says Curt Matthews, CEO of Independent Publishers Group. “Our business has been growing at 30% per year for the last 15 years, and we’ll do it again this year. Outfits like IPG, Publishers Group West, and National Book Network–we’ve all been having stupendous growth and really taking market share from the big publishers.”


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Call it the tao of small. “Our publishers are the masters of the niche marketplace, and that is where publishing has been developing,” says Jan Nathan, Executive Director of the Publishers Marketing Association. Grooming niche markets with direct and special sales tactic…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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