two books

Survey: For Small Publishers is Print Still Worth the Expense?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

two booksBy Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

In today’s feature story, “One Year of Translating, Selling Swedish Literature Direct,” Claes Ericson, publisher of Sweden’s Stockholm Text reflects on one year in business. Having published 15 titles exclusively as ebooks, one of his takeaways is the decision to begin publishing his books in print. Despite having sold between 50,000–100,000 titles in 2012, he believes that he may have sacrificed as much as 75% of potential sales because his books were not available in print.

Ericson notes: “We are going to change our distributor to Consortium, which means we will now publish all our books in print as well as digital. For our next crime novel we will print 10,000 copies to start, and these will be distributed to stores. Of course that increases our costs — it costs $15,000 to translate a book, and now with print that will be even higher. But the upside is higher also, in that we will have a greater retail presence.”

Publishing in print has a very strong potential upside: bookstore and library sales being the most obvious. But publishing in print and subsequent distribution raises the expense and complicates the process: you suddenly have to deal shipping and returns, new design and production expenses, additional workflow considerations, sales personnel, etc.

Is it, in the day and age of increasingly shrinking bookstore shelves, is print still worth it for small publishers? Of course, the very definition of a “small publisher” is fungible, but for the sake of argument, lets say a publisher that does 225 or fewer books per year.

Take our survey and let us know what you think in the comments.

[poll id=83]
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.