Navigating the Niche
At the 2010 Independent Book Publishers Association's Publishing University, marketing guru and keynote speaker Seth Godin advised a room packed with independent publishers that, in order to thrive in today's marketplace, they need to build a tribe—or niche—and produce and distribute books to benefit that tribe. That formula for success is not a new one for C&T Publishing, a Concord, Calif.-based independent publisher that has been putting Godin's theory into practice and producing books and other products for the quilting, paper craft and fiber art markets since 1983.
While C&T's niche hasn't changed in more than 25 years of publishing, the company has changed, adapting its business models to reflect a transforming book marketplace and publishing industry. In recent years, it has spearheaded a flurry of initiatives, launching a new imprint, Stash Books; mobile applications; e-books; and a print-on-demand (POD) program, among others.
Success has followed for C&T, even at a time when many other publishers are struggling not only to increase sales revenues, but to effectively solve the print-digital puzzle as it relates to their businesses. In February, C&T announced record sales growth in 2010: a 47-percent increase in book trade sales, more than a 100-percent increase in sales of its e-products, and nearly a 1,000-percent increase in its POD sales.
So, how is C&T achieving such significant increases? Sales Director Sandy Balin attributes last year's book trade sales increase to the new Stash Books imprint, which launched in April 2010.
A Multichannel Sales Strategy
"While Stash Books titles have been well-received across all channels, the most exciting response has been in the book trade," says Balin. "With this new line of books, we are reaching a different group of consumers than our traditional quilting titles [do]—young craft sewers who are looking for ideas and inspiration."