Increasing Sales, One Chapter at a Time
It’s a good time to be a professional publisher. This industry segment continues to post above-average sales growth, while many of its publishers are at the forefront of the digital revolution that has been transforming the way we publish and read books.
According to the Book Industry Study Group’s “Book Industry Trends 2007” report, sales of professional books increased by 3.2 percent in 2006 over the previous year, from $8.6 billion to $8.9 billion. This increase ranked professional publishing as the third-largest growth segment in dollar sales, behind only religious books (5.6-percent growth) and adult trade (3.9-percent growth).
A ‘Glutted’ Market
While the professional publishing market is reporting sales increases, it still struggles with many of the same issues that have been affecting most book publishers. Several professional publishers said they are facing the challenge of finding fresh, new titles that will stand out in a market that some view as saturated. “Something to understand about the book publishing marketplace is that it’s totally glutted. The number of new books being published in the United States has exploded,” says Johanna Vondeling, editorial director for San Francisco-based Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc. “It’s really hard to put out a book that’s just good content and expect it to sell.”
Laura Simonds, director of marketing and sales for Davies-Black Publishing––a division of CCP Inc., located in Mountain View, Calif.––views finding fresh content as her company’s No. 1 challenge. “Have we seen a new book proposal that’s, ‘Oh my God, we haven’t seen this before’? No, we haven’t,” she says. “… That’s what we’re looking for, and it’s getting tougher to find those kinds of exciting books.”
“[Professional publishing] is a very tough category … and we have been extremely critical about the proposals that we get and what we decide to publish,” Simonds continues.