by Raelene Gorlinsky
The July 25, 2011, issue of Publishers Weekly had an insightful opinion article by Ashley Rindsberg, "Renaissance: Are niches the new mass market?" He summarized the changes of the past two decades and explains just how the whole basis of the publishing industry has been shaken. Some excerpts:
< Through all the panic and hysteria that's gripped the publishing world over the past few years, and in spite of academic musings on the fate of the book, we're witnessing an unprecedented flourishing of creativity and innovation in the book business. [...]
Social media has made "the niche" the all-important marketing concept today. Readers now gather around shared passions and interests [...] book production and distribution has finally become advanced enough to deliver titles directly to individual niches in a cost-effective way.
In short, a new publishing industry is emerging. For decades the book business has been dominated by what's become the "big six" corporate publishers and the major bookstore chains. [...] Given the high fixed costs of producing and selling a book, it became critical for big publishers to invest in titles that could nto only bring a return on the investment but subsidize the other titles that didn't sell. Thus, the focus of much of the book industry began to shift away from the kind of magical books that enrich our culture, to those books that could sell big. And how do publishers predict what will sell? By looking at what's already sold, of course.
In this way the book industry began to churn out expensive, generic titles that merely mimicked previous bestsellers. And smaller, niche-oriented titles--books that [...] lacked that "mass market" gloss--went unpublished or, ast best, were left for dead on the backlist.
Then, in the late 1980s, things started to change. Small publishers began using new digital publishing technologies--the era of "desktop publishing". In the mid 1990s, Internet sales, through services like Amazon, emerged. And now, in just the past few years, social networking and social media have changed the game; Google has scanned and made millions of books discoverable; digital print-on-demand has become practical and cost-effective; and most important, the Kindle, Nook and iPad have paved the way for an e-book future.
The current environment has all the makings of a renaissance for books. Even as the major publishing conglomerates contract, and retail chains like Borders flail, small and truly independent publishers are flourishing. >
Yep, I think that explains the success of Ellora's Cave and other indies and epubs like us. We target a specific market niche (such as erotic romance), and we understand that niche. We take chances on new authors and new styles within that niche, because we grasp what our readers may want and we cater to the diversity within that market and we provide value to those readers.
Of your recent reads, how many were those "megasellers for the masses" from major publishers, and how many were niche books from smaller publishers or the targeted genre lines of the big publishers?