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Spotlight: Rob Price, Price World Publishing

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Rob Price of Price World Publishing in Columbus, OH (photo below), is one of IBPA’s new board members, and possibly the association’s record-holder for youngest start in publishing. He was a freshman at the University of Madison in Robert PriceWisconsin when he first printed and sold a single-sheet of workout program instructions from his dorm room.

“I was a big-time fitness enthusiast, and I began creating copies of a workout program and selling them on eBay in response to years of people asking me for pointers in the gym,” he recalls. “I was hoping I could sell one or two copies a week for spending money. Positive reviews and more than 100 sales per week led me to turn that one-page program into 10 programs, and then 30 programs, and then 100.”
Enterprising business major that he was, Price soon decided to put everything together in a book, The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Sports. He didn’t keep careful records back in 2001 (remember, he was also finishing college and preparing for law school), but he believes that the book and its spin-offs, each focused on a different sport, now have more than 125,000 copies in print. The sports they cover include rugby, skiing, badminton, volleyball, and running, and the titles are available in German, Spanish, and French as well as English. The original Ultimate Guide—now one of Price World’s 55 traditionally printed titles—is also available as an e-book, and as an e-book enhanced with three-dimensional GIFs demonstrating exercises.

Although he finished his law degree at Ohio State University and was admitted to the bar, Price says his work as a law firm summer associate made him realize he was more excited about publishing than about law. “The idea of creating something from scratch was also very appealing,” he adds.

The success of his first fitness titles led Price to expand rapidly into a wide range of genres and topics, from politics to parenting. Because many of these new titles did not sell as well as expected, Price World returned its focus to sports and fitness until digital books became popular. “The lower production costs associated with e-books allowed me to again expand the scope with less risk. We now offer a broad range of fiction and biographies, and even some humor and poetry,” Price reports.

Publishers—and prospective publishers—need to focus on unique and compelling content, he believes, and on determining the best ways to promote that content once it’s in the marketplace.

By year end, in addition to the 55 print-for-inventory titles, Price World will have 57 other print-on-demand titles. All are available as e-books. By 2015, the firm also expects to have 90 digital-only titles.

With staff of about a dozen, including freelance editors, designers, and data entry people, Price and his wife, Takako, run Price World as a traditional publishing house, absorbing all design, production, and distribution costs, and compensating authors with royalties. This structure allows maximum flexibility, which Price identifies as important for indie publishers today. “In this ever-changing industry, being creative and adaptable is key,” he says. “So is knowledge. The more we can learn about publishing, the better positioned we’ll be to succeed. That’s one of the reasons I’m very excited about the new features IBPA has been rolling out to help members learn both from one another and from experts.”

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