What are small publishers thinking?

I gather from the excellent i newspaper that this has not been a good year for [book] publishers, with 128 going out of business compared with 81 the previous year. I assume these are mostly smaller outfits.

The article blames the rise in use of ebooks, with failing publishers struggling to make books available in this format. This is both sad and baffling. I have been published by both large and middle-sized publishers and in my experience the smaller companies are much lighter on their feet and able to quickly adapt to new opportunities like ebooks. 

Admittedly, the chances are many of the failed companies were one person and a dog publishers, rather than mid-sized operations, but I'm amazed that these days, when ebook publishing is so much easier than it was even 5 years ago that the failed companies weren't on top of the state of today's publishing. I do wonder if it could be that too many of them were rather prissy about ebooks as somehow inferior to the printed page, refused to get into bed with Amazon - which you have to when it is the dominant ebook player - or didn't understand how to use the flexibility of pricing that ebooks bring.

Whatever the reasons, it's a shame - and a lesson for anyone thinking of getting into publishing: this isn't a game for those who are resistant to change.


  1. I'm surprised to see this. I remember the old adage my father taught me: "A poor workman always blames his tools or the hardware." I would think adaptation is the very heart of publishing... or else we'd all be reading hand-lettered scrolls.

    1. Fair point. Should be carved in stone.


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