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Publishers and publishing, Book industries and trade


It has been widely reported in recent years that a few independent publishing houses, which were formed as for-profit organizations, have adopted nonprofit status. Given the sheer quantity of independent publishing houses in the United States and the complexities involved with establishing and maintaining nonprofit status, it is worthwhile to explore whether or not there has in fact been growth in nonprofit publishing houses in recent years, to consider if that growth is indicative of a trend, and to inquire what factors may lend to the success or failure of nonprofit independent publishers. Furthermore, it is useful to consider the role of the independent publisher in American publishing, how that role may or may not be impacted by nonprofit status, and by that contemplate what a trend involving an increase in nonprofit publishers might mean to independent publishing overall.

To begin with, this paper will consider independent publishers in the broadest of terms, in that although many are "incorporated, they are independent of the major conglomerates that dominate the book publishing industry" and include small, mid-size, and university presses ("What is Indie"). This research also acknowledges that the concept of nonprofit publishing houses is not new. Nonprofit models for publishing have existed in America as long as the publishing industry has. What makes the topic relevant in contemporary publishing is the means by which nonprofit publishers originate. If there is an increase in independent publishers that are implementing nonprofit business models, if there is an increase in new presses that are founded as nonprofits from the onset, or even if independent publishers are adopting nonprofit status for reasons unlike those that have done so in the past, it would point toward a trend in independent publishing that is worth exploring. Such a trend could indicate a more ubiquitous inclination toward nonprofit publishing, which may serve as a comment about the current state of the industry.


Paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Writing: Book Publishing.

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