I just love big numbers, don’t you? Especially when they have a dollar sign in front of them. Take this one: $52 billion. A good-sized number, wouldn’t you say? I mean, if you took 52 billion dollar bills and stretched them end-to-end, they would reach…um…a really long way. (Liberal arts major here, okay?)
Why my fixation on this number? A new, and somewhat mysterious, company called New Publisher House featured it prominently it in the executive summary of “State of Independence 2014,” its report on indie publishing: “The self-publishing book market in the US currently represents over $52 billion in untapped revenue. This is twice the size of the established mainstream book publishing market’s total annual sales revenue.”
Pretty cool, right? Except what does “untapped revenue” mean? And who or what is New Publisher House, anyway? The news release announcing the report refers to the company as “media technology firm.” Its founder and CEO, James O’Toole, is a mucky-muck in internet marketing in Australia.
I poked around a little bit at the New Publisher House website. Details, as they say, are sketchy, but it appears the company aims to sign up authors and author service providers, and give them an opportunity to meet up and do business together. That’s not unlike some other sites we’ve seen. The difference here, I guess, is that an author has the choice of either going it alone, or hiring an individual service provider or a team of service providers. Say an editor, a graphic artist, an ebook formatter, and a publicist all got laid off from their previous positions. If I’m understanding this correctly, they could band together and market their services as a package on New Publisher House.
This looks like a new effort, for all that the posts in the “Coffeehouse” appear to be almost a year old. The website looks pretty but the content is thin, and the information at the Resources tab is extremely basic. For that matter, I didn’t see much of anything in the executive summary of “State of Independence 2014” that I didn’t already know. The publishing industry is undergoing rapid change; people who have been laid off by media companies and go freelance will be major competition for their former employers; indie titles will be increasingly competitive with mainstream titles; and so on. No, really?
The rest of the report presumably includes the methodology for that amazing $52 billion number, but you can’t see it yet. The company plans to release it along with its Kickstarter campaign, which hasn’t yet begun. I had to give up my e-mail address to get access to the executive summary; I’m sure they’ll be hitting me up for a donation at some point.
So the jury is still out on New Publisher House. But I suspect “$52 billion in untapped revenue” means something along the lines of, “Let’s figure out a way for us marketers to get a chunk of that.”