Smaller Publishers Make Larger, But Invisible, Sales

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April 9, 2013

PRESS RELEASE (Manhattan Beach, CA)

A new survey of IBPA members has confirmed what much broader earlier surveys also found: smaller publishers make sizable book sales that nobody adds up.

The latest survey, reports an article by Judith Appelbaum in the April 2013 edition of the IBPA Independent magazine, indicates that even the largest IBPA member publishers in a population of roughly 3,000 make more than half their book sales independently of their distributors, in channels where no one tracks aggregate sales of books.

The survey said:

  • Roughly 62 percent of the smallest companies represented in the survey (those with annual revenue under $100,000) report that they don’t work with distributors.
  • The figure is almost the same (c. 63 percent) for publishers in the next tier (those with annual revenue between $100,000 and $500,000).
  • More than 44% of midsize companies (those with annual revenues over $500,000 and up to $10 million) don’t use book distributors.

book sales-IBPAThose untracked book sales may be sales to non-book wholesalers or retailers, sales to consumers online or in person, and/or sales to educational institutions, corporations, and associations, as well as other “special” or “nontraditional” sales that established systems for counting book sales can’t see.

Since the segment of the book business that consists of small and midsize publishers is the segment that is growing fastest in terms of dollar and unit sales, as well as in terms of company count (see “Independent Publisher Power” in the March Independent), unmeasured and uncounted book sales numbers and trends in this segment could mean a significant loss of opportunity for publishers of all sizes.

And it certainly means that independent publishers are being credited with only a fraction of the contribution their sales actually make to all book sales.

For survey details, see the full article online here.

About the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)

Founded in 1983, the Independent Book Publishers Association is the largest not-for-profit trade organization for publishers in the United States. IBPAs mission is to lead and serve the independent publishing community by providing advocacy, education, and tools for success.

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