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On Independent Publishers

Indie publishers, even if they have been established for quite some time, need support. According to an article posted on the Digital Book World, the Golden Age of independent publishing might well be upon us. The writer cites no sources (apart from linking instances of success in the independent publishing world) but he forms his argument from the developments that he has seen in the book world.  While it is not clear that this new golden age is going to occur in Irish publishing, the writer made some valid points that actually shed an optimistic light on what the industry’s future could look like. While the industry is becoming an nebulous place for everyone, the ways in which independent publishers could thrive are worth looking at by publishers in general.

Due to the changes that the publishing industry is facing as a whole, indie publishers have as much a chance of staying competitive as mainstream publishers. Developments such as self-publishing mean that publishers have to adapt in order to remain relevant, wish is as much a blessing as a curse. The opportunity to experiment and alter the way things are done is a positive one, but what can indie publishers do in order to stay ahead of the curve? Would they actually benefit more because of the changes that must be made in the publishing industry, or is it simply a case of everyone having the equal opportunity to evolve with a changing system?

The publishing industry in Ireland is going through an unpredictable period. While more established houses have a better chance of maintaining their positions, many factors can cause them to lose their edge in business, and the same is the case for independent publishers. Even more so, independent publishers would struggle to get off the ground and succeed as a business. However, purely because the industry is shifting, there are a number of ways that small, independent publishers can chase their success.

There is a sense of intimacy that comes with going into independent bookstores, and so the same is the case when it comes to indie publishers. That can be elaborated on through the use of social media, or at least making sure that the business has a face. People like to see a person behind an organisation, or a team of people behind a company. People also, in theory, support the idea of a smaller business trying to succeed in the industry. If an independent publisher wishes to attract and provide for a particular audience, then they have the right but also a responsibility to be innovative and give the readers what they want. So through the very nature of being an independent publisher allows for authors and interested parties to engage with the publisher through the sheer draw of that intimate connection.

Another point that this particular article made about independent publishers was that risks were part of their make-up as it was, so therefore they could afford to take risks. Independent publishers that are just getting started can keep their options open, and have the freedom to be innovative. Embracing new technology and trying creative things should be beneficial to any publishing company, but for independent publishers it could be a means of staying ahead of the curve. It is all about adapting to the ever changing marketplace, and surprising potential contacts. The industry is going to go through some alterations, and if independent and established publishers alike embrace such changes and evolve with them, then that could mean the continuation of the publishing industry. If not, then I’m saying the publishing industry will deteriorate, but it certainly won’t improve.

However, independent publishers are also the most vulnerable. While every publisher runs the risk of falling into financial difficulty, indie publishers will more than likely have trouble even making a profit. Social media and better networking between members of the literary community can certainly help indie publishers get off the ground, but it would be a tough journey without perhaps  some extra help from the arts council. The need for funding is not going to go away, and yet certain organisations are failing to give a helping hand to small, budding publishers. Even family owned publishers that have lasted for generations are struggling, and yet the proper care is not being given to those who are attempting to get started.

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