Focus on Independent Publishers: PMA Executive Director Terry Nathan talks about challenges facing this segment, including Amazon’s new POD policy.
I sit in on groups with buyers from Barnes & Noble and Borders, and they absolutely frown on any POD book. There’s sort of a stigma that the books are not returnable.
Extra: In general, what should independent publishers be focusing on today?
Nathan: I’m thinking maybe just putting more emphasis on selling outside the book trade—special sales possibly. You think about BookExpo America and what it was 10 or 15 years ago. It was a show alive with book buyers. The independent bookstores are [decreasing]. You have the big retail stores and Amazon. One of the big challenges [for independent publishers] is to target and identify, and then explore … new areas to sell their books.
Extra: The PMA will be hosting its Publishing University at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles, May 27–30. What are the independent publishers you work with interested in learning more about from the PMA?
Nathan: The different online opportunities—the viral marketing and blogs. … There’s always the nuts and bolts of publishing that people are interested in, too. The publicity, the marketing and the distribution challenges—that’s always an area [in which] people are interested. … The main area [of the Publishing University] is going to be the online options. … The one thing that smaller publishers have [as an advantage over] the larger houses is that they’re able to react quicker to changes and needs in the marketplace. If all of a sudden a book is needed on tsunamis, maybe there’s a smaller publisher that can quickly get that out. Smaller publishers do have that. The same is true about how they can react to the changes on the Internet. Larger publishers have a lot more red tape. Smaller and independent [publishers] can jump right on it. The smaller folks have an upper hand [and can] stay competitive with the rest of the industry.