Bonus Material: Indie vs. Corporate Publishing, Is the Choice Still Relevant?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka


In today’s article about German publishing house Tropen’s transition into the folds of the much larger Klett-Cotta, executive Michael Zöllner stressed that the move was, by-and-large, a positive one.

“The element of trust, combined with greater possibilities and safety [as a business] aren’t contradictory with independence, they’re an improved concept of it,” he said. “With Tropen we always knew how we would finance the next program or two, but not more… I’m much freer now in my choice, together with the editors, together with Tom, of how to create a program that we think is successful and that’s something I totally enjoy.”

This may strike some as overly pragmatic, especially in the United States where many smaller publishers regard themselves as fiercely independent or even countercultural.

“In the US, the conventional wisdom has always been that a writer must make his career either with a large corporate publisher or with one of the dozens of smaller independent houses,” wrote Chris Artis in Publishing Perspectives in October. “The thinking was that since the corporate and indie publishing worlds are so different in terms of priorities and styles an author and his collective work could only belong in only one. Today that notion is changing.”

The piece went on to explain, from the point-of-view of US literary agent Ira Silverberg, that the choice between Indie and Corporate publishing was largely moot. Silverberg asserted, “As larger publishers become more focused in tending to bigger frontlist titles, small publishers are increasingly able to pick up the slack in terms of publishing backlist, midlist and literary titles.” He then touted a new spirit of cooperation.

Do you agree that the scene has changed to the extent that the smaller players and the big boys are working as a team on a level playing field? Or do you believe that the spirit of competition, particularly for sales in a highly competitive market, will forever keep them in competition?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or reply via Twitter using hashtag #ppbonus

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.