63,000 Publishers Counted in Recent Study
A revised estimate of the number of book publishers in the United States is exciting news for book printers. According to the Book Industry Study Group, the number is higher than once believed. In the new study, “Under the Radar,” there are about 63,000 publishers with sales of less than $50 million. The report was prepared by InfoTrends/CAP Ventures, a market research and strategic consulting firm. This figure, 63,000, is 14.5% higher than the last reported figure of 55,000 publishers quoted in the book “The Rest of Us” conducted by the Publishers’ Marketing Association in 1999.
The “Under the Radar” study goes on to state that these publishers generate annual revenue of about $14.2 billion, much of it outside traditional book publishing and book selling. The majority of that revenue—about $11.5 billion—comes from publishers with sales between $1 million and $49.9 million.
Jeff Abraham, executive director of BISG, said that while some of that revenue is represented in current industry sales estimates—which put total revenue at between $23.7 billion and $28.5 billion—a significant portion is not. “We’ve always heard anecdotal stories about how much activity occurs outside of traditional book publishing and bookselling. This study tries to quantify how much,” Abraham said.
InfoTrends finds that about 34% of the sales of publishers in the study come from bookstores and book wholesalers (including only 3.3% from the chains). Book wholesalers are found to be the fastest growing channel. Non-book wholesalers, which serve accounts such as health stores and sporting goods stores, represent about 20% of sales. Catalogues contribute about 10% of revenue. In addition to wholesalers, the fastest growing segments were online retailers and direct-to-consumer sales.
Abraham knows that the “Under the Radar” findings challenge many industry assumptions. “For several years, we knew there was a segment of book industry activity that was not being covered by traditional research,” he said. “Under the Radar” asserts that the industry is both larger and less concentrated than previously believed.
“We’ve been seeing signs for a long time, especially with the rise of the internet,” said Kent Sturgis, president of the Publishers Marketing Association, which represents thousands of independent publishers. “It used to be New York publishers were gatekeepers of what got into print. Technology has democratized book publishing.”
Book printers should be excited by these findings. The market is larger than once thought which means there is more opportunity to print different kinds of books. The market is also more fractured than once thought. New York is no longer considered to be the publishing capital of the world. The Internet and digital technology allows publishers to live and work where they please. This means there is opportunity for book printers whereever they are located. Finally, the book publishers scattered throughout the US make more money than once thought which means they have money to spend on printing more books.
The publishers in this study are classified as small businesses. Printers who have experience working with small businesses will have an advantage over those who deal exclusively with the book trade. Furthermore, the Internet and other digital marketing tools have “democratized” book publishing which means those printers who have marketing solutions geared to digital marketing will be preferred to those who do not.
Book printers would be wise to understand these changing market conditions to market to the new breed of publisher.