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Midsize Members

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by Florrie Binford Kichler

Midsized Members

How successful are the midsized members of the Independent Book Publishers Association? Close to half have annual revenues in excess of $1 million, and the group as a whole continues to build thriving businesses.

These experienced publishers—who support our association with membership dollars, teach at Publishing University, and generously offer time to mentor people new to the industry—have their own needs. This is particularly true in the areas of education and marketing, and our association is now taking steps to ensure that we provide what’s needed.

The Survey Said

Educational programming for our midsized publishers has been sporadic over the years, but a more concerted effort began in 2005 with the first PMA Graduate School—a one-day program of educational seminars led by past PMA president Don Tubesing and featuring industry experts on a variety of topics. Only midsized publishers could attend; the attendee group was limited to 30 to 35, and there was plenty of time for networking. Response from attendees was enthusiastic, as it was again for last year’s Graduate School.

To plan the Graduate School program for 2008, the responsible board committee decided that it was time to find out more about midsized publishers and the kinds of educational programming that would be most useful to them and their companies. Accordingly, the board of directors commissioned a survey. Conducted by Robin Bartlett, educational chair of Publishing University, it relied on a combination of personal phone calls and responses submitted electronically.

From the nearly 100 respondents, we learned:

The average number of employees at members’ midsized publishing companies is 12.5.

The average number of years in business is 27.4.

The average number of titles in print is 211.

13.3 percent of the respondents have annual revenue of less than $100K.

25.3 percent have annual revenue of $100K–$500K.

14.7 percent have annual revenue of $500K–$1 million.

40 percent have annual revenue of $1 million–$5 million.

6.7 percent have annual revenue of $5 million and up.

Asked about interest in a one-day educational program custom-tailored for the larger publisher and to be held the day before BEA 2008, almost 100 percent of the respondents said YES!

BUT . . . Midsize publishers wanted:

programming far more advanced than the Publishing University classes

even more opportunities for networking with other publishers facing similar challenges

high-level experts providing useful tools for doing business better and smarter

lots of advice about using the Internet

Web marketing, digital rights management, social media—the survey revealed a paramount yearning for tools and opportunities to fuel success in an industry where content seems to be moving from paper to pixels at a dizzying pace.

We listened.

Introducing the Midsized Publisher Technology Forum: Maximizing Your Bottom Line Online—Doing Business on the Internet

With a stellar lineup of topics (see “Internet Intelligence,” this issue), and a facilitator—Tom Woll, with more than 20 years’ experience in the publishing industry, including positions in senior management at John Wiley & Sons, Rodale, and Storey Communications/Garden Way Publishing—this year’s Graduate School promises to be the most exciting and informative ever.

As I write in February, speakers will be announced shortly. By the time you read this, you will know that we have chosen a dynamic and impressive slate of experts to do justice to this educational forum that gives midsized publisher members the unique opportunity not just to learn from the speakers, but to learn from each other.

To ensure ample opportunity for networking and a valuable learning experience, enrollment is limited, and attendees must have 25 or more titles in print and/or five years in business and/or approximately $1 million in annual sales. If you qualify, I encourage you to call Terry Nathan at 310/372-2732, or email terry@pma-online.org for more information.

Note: I invite those of you with at least five titles in print, $250,000 in annual sales, and in business three years to check out our Publishing University Advanced Track, created especially for you (see “Action on the Advanced Track” in this issue for details).

What’s Next

Twenty-five years ago, our association began as an educational and marketing resource for small and independent publishers. We still serve new, small, and independent publishers and always will—but it’s time to recognize that, just as our association has grown from Publishers Marketing Association to Independent Book Publishers Association, hundreds of our members have grown to become experienced publishers with thriving companies contributing millions of dollars to the economy.

Our midsized publishers are a precious asset. Their wisdom and experience are priceless, and we look to them for future leadership. In the strategic and business plan for our association, the board of directors has made it a priority to develop a suite of programming and benefits for these members’ unique needs, and this year’s Graduate School is a beginning.

Rest assured we will be talking further about this broad initiative in the coming months—and we will look forward to having midsized members talk back.

In the meantime, and on behalf of the board and of all members who are working their way up to midsized status, I want to say one word in appreciation for midsized members’ support, for their generous gifts of time and experience to those new to publishing, and for their hard work on improving the publishing industry for all of us—just one word: Thanks.

Internet Intelligence

The 2008 PMA Graduate School Presents:

What: Midsize Publisher Technology Forum: Maximizing Your Bottom Line Online—Doing Business on the Internet

When: May 29, 2008

Where: Wilshire Grand Hotel, Los Angeles

Who: For publishers with 25 or more titles in print and/or $1 million in revenue and/or five years in business

Course Outline:

How to Drive, Analyze, and Leverage Marketing Results on the Net

What You Absolutely Must Know About E-Commerce, Customer Service, and Back-End Fulfillment

Application Service Providers: Pros and Cons

Current and Future Trends in Web Publishing: Where Is the Net Taking Us?

Managing and Staffing Your Business for Long-Term Success

For more information: To receive an invitation to the program, email terry@pma-online.org, or call Terry Nathan at 310/372-2732.



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