Why Independent Publishing Is Not Such a Bad Business and Who Is Likely to Make a Success of It

June 2004
by Curt Matthews

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Independent publishing is not such a bad business, because it is still one of the very few businesses where a small startup has a chance. If publishing were like hardware or toys or groceries or computers or insurance, there would be very little point in trying to get into the game. But new publishers keep popping up all over the place.

If book publishing could be dominated by a few very large companies, by now it would have been. There are three main reasons that small publishers keep multiplying. One is that the cost of entry into the business is low (although not as low as many think). The second is that books are, relatively speaking, quite inexpensive to market (although not as inexpensive as many think). The third is that independent publishers, because of their lower overheads, can make a success of a book that would be a disaster for a large house.

There has been a lot of talk in the publishing industry about building a “brand”–a very expensive proposition if you try to do it quickly. But for the most part the consumers of books do not insist on a brand. An interesting, well-produced book from a small house can compete, and over time the imprint of a small specialized house is likely to function as a brand.

Some new independent publishers grow from a title or two into quite large and profitable concerns. What follows is an account of three companies whose development I have been able to observe up close, together with some thoughts…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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