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The “Rest of Us” Are Doing Well

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The PMA Board held their most recent board meeting last month in Minneapolis, and in particular, we were very pleased to see so many Minnesota members from affiliate organizations. As the Board moves its meetings around the country, it is wonderful to see how strong and vibrant independent publishing is in so many states, and how important this association is to so many of you.

Of course, this was the first meeting since the highly successful Publishing University/Benjamin Franklin Awards/Book Expo America week in Los Angeles at the end of April. While the highlight of the busy Book Expo was probably the release of the BISG/PMA sponsored report “The Rest Of Us”, the very large attendance-and the almost unanimously favorable feedback-from Publishing University perhaps paid most testament to the strength of the association and its primary mission of providing education in publishing matters to its membership. Through this article, I would like in particular to thank board member Robin Bartlett for his sterling work in recasting the curriculum for Pub-U and for making it such a success, as well as to Jan Nathan and all the PMA staff for making everything work so well. And also to board member Linda Ligon for her coordination of a well-attended and highly successful Benjamin Franklin Award ceremony. The awards event featured the inaugural presentation of what will be an annual award in honor of Bill Fisher, one of the pioneers of the independent publishing movement in this country. Bill was able to videotape a fine and moving speech in honor of this year’s Best First Book winners, and this award will be named in Bill’s memory in perpetuity.

The June meeting marked the last one for board publisher member Don Tubesing, who has served the organization with distinction over the last four years and who will be greatly missed, and vendor members Ron Mazzola of McNaughton & Gunn and Marcella Smith of Barnes & Noble, both representing organizations that have been good friends to small and independent publishers over the years when it would have been all too easy to ignore the sector completely. “The Rest of Us,” a report launched at Book Expo and which immediately hit the front page of the first PW daily report at the convention, ensures, I believe, that the independent sector of book publishing will never run the risk of being ignored again.

The booklet (which is available free of charge to PMA members on request) contains the results of a survey of over 2,500 publishers and suggests that independent publishing is a far more mature and stable sector of the industry (and far bigger) than any of us thought. As the large publishers merge and buy each other (and become part of media or information conglomerates for whom book publishing is a tiny portion of what they do), so the independent sector stands to grow and gain in strength and importance. What this survey shows is how important a percentage of the overall business of book publishing our sector has now become-conservatively estimated by the compilers of the report at $14.3 billion annually. This figure guarantees the independents a seat at any table where the future of the book industry is discussed. As the largest trade association representing independent publishers, PMA is committed to ensuring that this voice be heard, numbers counted, interests considered, and needs met.

“The Rest of Us” gives the Board a huge impetus as it moves during the upcoming year to put together a strategic plan for the future of the association. More on that-and our PMA board meetings-in next future columns. On a personal note, I left Northwestern University Press on July 1 to take the post of Executive Vice-President and Associate Publisher at Continuum International in New York City. Continuum is a long-established independent academic and religious publishing house with a fine reputation and an excellent list, and I hope to serve PMA and its Board and members even better from this vantage point for the second year of my presidency. My new e-mail address is Nickww@continuum-books.com.
This article is from thePMA Newsletterfor July, 1999, and is reprinted with permission of Publishers Marketing Association.





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