Under the Radar:
A Preview of the New BISG Study of Small and Midsize Publishers

April 2005
by Jeff Abraham and Judith Appelbaum

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PMA members, along with other small and midsize publishers, have been racking up sales under the radar of conventional tracking systems for years, and in some cases for decades. Those who have noticed the undercounting have been able to explain it relatively easily. Correcting the count has been much harder. Now, though, that’s well under way in the wake of a survey conducted by the Book Industry Study Group.

Sales That Are Hard to See

Industry observers have often been blind to or dismissive of information about sales by small and midsize publishers for a variety of reasons, including these:

The smaller-publisher segment consists of tens of thousands of companies scattered all across the country.Many of these companies don’t belong to book industry trade associations, sometimes because publishing is not their primary business.Whether or not they are primarily publishers, they tend to sell not only through book-trade channels that are routinely tracked and studied but also–and in quantity–through sales channels designed mainly to serve other industries, which the book industry does not monitor.No one outside the book industry has been motivated to aggregate and disseminate sales figures for books in most of these nontraditional channels.Census numbers, which might normally be considered reliable, also underrepresent the industry. In fact, the Census Bureau receives reports from a fraction of the companies that fit its definition of…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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