22.02.08 Tom Tivnan writing in The Bookseller:
The boost, which indies attribute to technological advances and the increasing number of ways they have found to "elbow" their way into chain retailers, has seen Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) membership hit an all-time high. It now has 515 members, up from 440 three years ago. Turnover ranges from a few thousand pounds to Faber's £16m through Nielsen BookScan in 2007.
Over the last three years, the number of new publishers registering with Nielsen Registration Agency, which allocates ISBNs, has also risen steadily. According to Nielsen, 2,900 publishers applied for publisher ISBN prefixes in 2007—an increase on 2006, when 2,800 publishers purchased prefixes. In 2005, 2,740 publishers registered.
The bulk of the applicants tend to be small, "one-man band" publishers: of the 2,900 applying in 2007, 2,600 purchased a batch of 10 ISBNs (the minimum requirement), while more than 230 bought batches of 100. Nielsen estimates that there are 20,000 active publishers in the UK.
Bridget Shine, IPG executive director, said: "Technology has certainly played a part in this—it is quite simply easier to publish books these days. But we have also seen a rise in professionals coming in from the bigger corporate players [to start independent publishers]."
Simon Petherick, publisher at Beautiful Books, said he had seen a levelling of the playing field since he started the company in 2006. "The most difficult thing for independents is to get your books front-of-store along with the bigger players. But if you have a marketing plan, make an effort and are prepared to play by [retailers'] rules, they are receptive to you. It's a good time to be an independent."
Tom Chalmers, m.d. at Legend Press, said customers were increasingly looking to indies for "that point of difference". He added: "We can move quickly and take chances, and I don't think conglomerates can do that easily."