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The year in independent publishing
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Posted by IPG
As 2016 draws to a close, our chief executive Bridget Shine reflects on some highs and lows for IPG members
It has been another 12 months of change and challenge in publishing—but as we reflect on the year about to end, IPG members have much to be proud of and lots to look forward to.
2016 has reminded us of the scale of independent publishing. Our Harbottle & Lewis Independent Publishing Report shows that IPG members share turnover of some £1.1bn a year—a remarkable figure that shows how widely independents cast their net now. Across trade, children’s, academic, professional, educational and a huge range of specialist areas, independents can be found punching way above their weight. The phenomenal success of Oneworld at the Man Booker Prize in the last two years—and a stack more book awards for our members—is a good example of that.
While some sectors have been tough, collectively it was another year of growth for independent publishers. Our Report found nearly half (48%) of publishers increasing turnover over the last year, another two in five (40%) seeing stable sales and only one in eight (13%) contracting.
For many though, the Brexit vote has been a blot on 2016. In an industry where the vast majority voted to remain, the result of the EU Referendum was a seismic shock, and our Report confirmed that IPG members fear long-lasting repercussions. But as our academic and policy correspondent Richard Fisher has pointed out, it was also a reminder that there are large swathes of the population that think very differently to this industry, and who publishers are not catering for as well as they could.
We have soon seen publishers rolling up their sleeves to deal with Brexit, though, and steeling themselves for what lies ahead. And whatever the UK’s future place in Europe, this remains a truly outward-looking industry. That much was obvious from the flow of overseas publishers through our collective stands at the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs, and from the Independent Publishing Report, which shows that international sales now account for well over a quarter (29%) of members’ sales.
For our part, the IPG can reflect on another busy and rewarding year. We have put on a host of great events, including a packed Annual Spring Conference, our busiest ever Autumn Conference, well-attended DMQs, Meet the Buyers sessions, dinners for our special interest groups and more. We rewarded some of the country’s best independent publishers at our annual Awards, added lots more offers and deals to our package of member benefits, dispatched our regular e-bulletins and hosted hundreds of free job ads.
2017 is going to be at least as busy, starting with our next Annual Spring Conference in February—which might not technically be Spring, but is bound to be a worthwhile trip for all members—and our 2017 Independent Publishing Awards, which you can enter now. We hope all that we do adds up to good value for IPG membership, and that you will join us for another year when you receive our subscription renewal letters shortly.
One of the best indications of the health of independent publishing lies in the membership of the IPG: now up to 620 companies and still rising. We are proud to be part of such a dynamic industry, and to be representing so many talented and creative publishers. Everyone at the IPG wishes you a very happy Christmas and a prosperous 2017.

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