For an organization with an apparent anti-ebook and anti-Amazon animus, The Guardian seems to have had something of a change of heart. A long article in its Guardian Small Business Hub section, by Alison Coleman, under the title “Small publishers are benefiting from changes in the industry,” demonstrates the benefits and opportunities of the new post-disruption publishing world for smaller and independent presses.
“The world of publishing was once the preserve of very large organisations, huge publishing houses with massive production infrastructures and costs, that kept smaller niche publishers on the fringes, struggling for a tiny share of the market,” declares Coleman. “Now, with the advent of digital publishing technology, the growing popularity of e-books, and the flexibility of print on demand that eliminates many of the cost challenges of volume print runs, the publishing business has played nicely into the hands of the small, home-based publisher.”
She then cites some successful but still struggling small publishers, as well as service providers, for their perspectives on what the opportunities are and how to do things right. Sadly, the article is a little light on detail and resources for any aspiring independent publisher who wants to put its conclusions into practice, but the positive examples are certainly there, even for good old-fashioned print books.
“Because our overheads are so low compared to those of a large organisation, we can offer comparable titles in content and quality, but at a healthy discount,” remarks Phillip Dauncey, children’s publishing veteran and recent recruit to the ranks of independent publishers with Really Decent Books, as quoted by Coleman. “We can also create something that our customers want if the volume is there without the need to take it to committee.”
The article also emphasizes the need to stay ahead of ebook opportunities on Amazon and elsewhere, and to use social media in marketing and promotion. But the growing competition in the sector that Coleman cites must itself be a sign that something is working for smaller publishers in the modern book world, no matter what The Guardian has said elsewhere.