Are we guilty of allowing our focus on the big guys and their tussles with Amazon to cloud our view of the business? In this piece from Publishing Perspectives of 18 September, Judith Applebaum suggests that there’s huge, unnoticed growth underway in the book publishing industry: lots and lots of new publishers are setting up shop. I do believe that we may be at the end of a consolidation era: when companies consolidate people get laid off; when people get laid off some of them set up little companies competing with the industry giants. These companies start small of course, but some will hope to grow into tomorrow’s giants. Ms Applebaum suggests that we remain ignorant of all this growth because the collectors of data for our industry are unable to see these tiny fish. I was at the Brooklyn Book Festival last weekend, September 21st. There were about 150 publishers represented ranging from a few (20-25) whose names you’d recognize, to a number of individuals offering their self-published books for sale. Between these extremes there were maybe 100 or so small independent presses publishing small numbers of titles annually — many of them familiar from previous years and other trade shows. We are sort of aware that there’s a whole lot of self-publishing going on; we just find it hard to know exactly how much and how successful it is. Seems that this is also true of small presses.

I did do a post entitled “A golden age of publishing?” back in October 2013.